Generation Cedar

Prompted by some things I’ve been reading and conversations I’ve been having, there is a burning concern on my heart that forces its way to this post.

Since the beginning of time, Satan has used a deceitful and powerful weapon to catch people in a web of self-pity and “victim mentality”.  It continues like gangrene through our present day and we are so tantalized by its “gentle force” that all of us are susceptible.

We call it “humanism” now, and its tenets are rooted in “self-fulfillment, misguided compassion and self-interest”.  The trickiest thing about this other religion is that it uses our natural regard and feelings of compassion and protection of others to accomplish a deeper, sinister end.

Humanism has invaded the church as well.  It hides behind gentle-sounding, spiritual phrases and often grossly distorts the definition of grace.  It has re-painted our picture of Christ and conveniently whittles away the uncomfortable traits of his character that demand of us self-sacrifice and repentance.

Those words have no place in the humanist’s vocabulary.  They invoke “guilt and shame”, they say.

Why does this concern you and me?  Because it is probably one of the most subtle, dangerous influences in our lives.  We can so easily be swept up by its silver-tongued proponents (and remember, Satan doesn’t have horns and a forked tail; he comes as an angel of light).

We love being victims so much that we live in a society that has effectively turned every sin into a neat “disorder”.  There is little teaching about taking responsibility for one’s actions and putting blame squarely where blame is due.  Instead, we can always find a scapegoat to blame our problems on–another person, our parents, our church, or a hereditary “disease”.

Do not let your children develop a victim mentality.  It not only destroys them, but everyone around them.  And guard your own life from it.  Be ever so discerning about the things your read and the teaching you allow to affect you.  Pay close attention to “feeling-evoking” conversations.  Don’t be baited by questions that allow your mind to search for someone to blame for your problems. We could all be victims if we allowed ourselves.  (Though I disagree a lot with Dr. Phil, he hits this point on the head.)

There is a real kind of abuse in the world. I’m no stranger to it, having grown up caring for children all our lives who came from abused homes.  Some abuse is hidden and some do suffer in silence.  That abuse needs to be dealt with. But I’ve seen “the abusing of abuse”, meaning, the word “abuse” thrown around carelessly to manipulate, slander or destroy other people, groups and churches.

Real abuse has existed and will exist until the end of time.  There are abusers in every strata of society, church and family.  It sickens me when the sinfulness of a man or woman is blamed on a larger, healthy institution.  If a husband abuses his wife, it doesn’t make the institution of marriage wrong.  If a parent abuses his child it doesn’t make parenthood wrong.  If a parent from a large family abuses his children, it doesn’t make the idea of large families wrong, it makes the abuser wrong.  If a husband of a family who claims to believe that “the husband is the head of the wife” abuses his wife, it doesn’t make the Scriptural teaching of headship (where the husband is called to lay down his life for his wife) wrong.  It makes him wrong.  We must always default to the truth of Scripture and never alter a teaching because of those who would abuse said teaching!

God’s Word is our standard.  Always.  Anything that veers from that, no matter how lovely it sounds, is inherently evil, veiled in light.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  Matthew 10:16

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65 Responses

  1. Great post! Shirking responsibility and accountability for our own actions and conditions has nothing to do with God’s precepts for our lives, regardless of the form we may cling to!

  2. I love this.I grew up in a home that always tried to place blame else where.That mentality carried on into my adult life.Only sense I have had children have I come to relize how harmful this attitude is.I by the grace of God have managed to raise children who take responsibility for thier own actions.I however still catch myself playing the blame game in my thought life.I am so glad you have written this.You are a wonderful inspiration to me daily.I keep you in my prayers. I know God is doing great thing through you and this blog.I so wish I was capable of speeking to others the way you are.

  3. One of my favorite quotes garnered from the internet, addresses not abuse persay but the larger picture of victim claims in society – “An argument as to whose ancestors were the most vicitimized casts little honor on the participants”.

  4. THANK YOU – it’s becoming increasingly frustrating listening to those who would choose victimhood over freedom. It is a choice of attitude, and those who truly have been hurt and legitimately offendeded are often the first to lead by example, expressing that they make a choice to bypass victimhood and live in light. Meanwhile, we diminish true suffering when we elevate whininess and hurt feelings to “victimization”.

    As for children…the new acceptable default seems to be the age old “well so and so did that, so I’m justified in doing this” – the height of childishness is to use the bad behavior of others to excuse our own. Unfortunately, it has left the realm of the schoolyard and has infected our entire culture. Parents lately seem to be the purveyors of what we should be training out of juvenile brains – instead it’s cultivated.

  5. Excellent post Kelly!!!

    Who gets to define abuse? I’m not saying abuse does not exist, and I agree there will always be some sort of abuse in every walk of life until Jesus returns to restore His world and it needs to be addressed, but who has the right to define what abuse is?

    After spending most of my life of being held prisoner in the “victim mentality (oh poor me)” I am free!

    I suffered real Spiritual abuse growing up, as in I was taught NOTHING of a loving, merciful, kind and JUST God. That does not give me an excuse to dishonor my parents NOR does it excuse me from walking in the path of righteousness as an adult and teaching God’s Word to my children!

    Isn’t this whole ‘abuse’ *crap* why we are dealing with the UN Rights of a Child legislation as parents willing give up their responsibility to BE PARENTS?! ugh!!!

    When we view ourselves as a victim (and who hasn’t been at one point or another) it allows us to excuse our behavior; everything is justified. Didn’t Satan convince Eve she was a victim of God’s plan (lack of privilege/*freedom* to eat the fruit)?

    We all make mistakes in parenting, it is a learning process. Just as we show our children forgivess, mercy and grace when they mess up, they need to learn to show that same forgiveness, mercy and grace when we mess up.

    If we all grew up with perfect parents – perfect siblings, a perfect church, and good government, then there would be NO NEED for Christ. As we learn to give and receive grace then we learn much about what Christ has done for us!!!

    Why did Satan go to the woman? Oh, foolish women, be careful who you listen to. When the teaching you are listening to is self-centered, return to the Scripture and examine the life Christ has called you to.

    Thank you Kelly. 🙂

  6. Most abuse is very clearly defined, Kathy, and we have the ability and the right to define it. You may not have the right to dishonor your parents, but someone’s needed to call them up for their negligence. And PS: Satan went to the woman because she was younger than the man and knew less.

    Great post, Kelly.

  7. Jennifer,

    “Satan went to the woman because she was younger than the man and knew less.”

    Hmmmm…I don’t think that conclusion can be made as a definitive one. (Here is an interesting explanation of how/why women are more easily deceived:

    Women are targeted by deceit (i.e. Satan) because they wield so much power over men. That is my conclusion from what we see in Scripture and in real life.

  8. “And PS: Satan went to the woman because she was younger than the man and knew less. ”

    LOL, which verse is that?

    I think the point of the conversation is that abuse is no longer clearly defined. It’s become arbitrary and subjective, even in legal circles, and those who choose to see beyond their own offense are belittled for not being victim enough. Victimhood, rather than victory, is what is encouraged. Too bad.

  9. Cottage Child, try looking at all the verses which narrate that Adam was created before Eve. It’s very simple. He was created first, was supposed to instruct her, and by all appearances failed: not only did she misquote God’s command (He never said TOUCHING the fruit would cause death) but Adam sat by while Satan deceived Eve and said nothing.

  10. Your last comment is interesting, Kelly, and no doubt partly true, but I didn’t see any particular reference in that article for WHY women are either more easily deceived or targeted by Satan; just stuff about why Paul wanted them to learn in silence.

  11. I see clearly, Jennifer, and still don’t read that because she was “younger” she knew less…? Now Eve is a victim. Even though she was instructed exactly, precisely, as Adam was. Eve didn’t just allow herself to be deceived – she actually deceived herself, trusted her own wisdom above God’s, if we’re going to be technical about it, talked herself right into it. Yes Adam was to protect her, as she was created to help him, – but as his partner, not as his impetuous child.

    This brings Kelly/WW’s point home even further – Adam blames Eve, Eve blames Adam, we all blame Satan – except Satan, who blames God. Everyone’s a victim, never mind that none of them listened to direct instruction from God. Not a pretty picture, but it perfectly illustrates the problem, relevant to today.

    I love the Adam and Eve example – an attitude of contrived victimhood goes waaaaaayyyy back, doesn’t it?

  12. This is a thought provoking post. My question is about “compassion”.

    I see that self-fulfillment and self-interest are at odds with self-sacrifice and repentance. I’ve been sorrowing about the loss of service and atonement for quite a while.

    How are you defining compassion so that it is selfish?

    My compassion calls me to The Sermon on the Mount and the least of these, The Prodigal Son, The washing of Feet. I put compassion with the the dying of the self and rebirth to eternal life.

    Any thoughts on compassion as something else would be appreciated.

  13. I’m well-aware of the contrived victimhood that both Adam and Eve played up to, and especially of the fact that Eve was a woman and not a child, but none of this changes the facts of my observation: Adam was created first and Eve was deceived, not him, which makes his sin greater. This goes hand in hand with the fact that those who deliberately teach false lessons receive far harsher punishments than those who are deceived into believing that the falsities they teach are truth.

  14. Oh and btw: Eve didn’t blame Adam, she blamed Satan. Still not a responsible move, but she at least laid fault at the most deliberate evil-doer there, instead of childishly blaming her spouse (and God through him), inspite of the fact that Adam was more to blame than she was.

  15. I’m afraid this is a terribly irresponsible post. You put women and those who are in abusive situations at risk for not being taken seriously.

    I’m disappointed in you, Kelly. This is shameful.

  16. You are right on here, Kelly. This is a problem my husband (a pastor) encounters time and time again within the body of Christ. Caedmon’s Call has a song called “Share the Blame” that speaks directly to this, also. Thank you for addressing it!!!

  17. I’m sorry – I’m really trying to see what you are Jennifer, with regard to the relevance of Eve’s being created after Adam and I’m not finding it.

    As far as who was to protect whom, I don’t see in scripture where either of them lived up to their responsibility, or derive that one failed more utterly than the other. Both failed at following God’s direct instruction, by choice, ultimately. My point of view is that belaboring the he did/she did argument is EXACTLY how we’ve arrived at what Kelly’s post addresses, circumventing righteous blame away from ourselves in an attempt to foist it onto others – I was victimized “the worser” than you, as my five year old puts it.

    It’s not meant to be argumentative. I understand the age old question has been politicized (and I mean that in the large, general sense, not elective politics) for the benefit of gender-bashing, by both sides, and the real lesson is obfuscated. Again, it really is too bad.

  18. Ceuson,

    Yes, let me clarify: that wasn’t a greatly worded phrase, to be sure. What I mean is that humanism uses our natural, normal capacity for compassion to its advantage, regardless of what is right or wrong in the circumstance. For example: the abortion industry plays on our compassion for the pregnant woman and many are drawn, by a powerful appeal, by that compassion to excuse the atrocity of abortion. But regardless of the real compassion to be felt for the woman involved, it’s wrong to use that compassion to make abortion seem OK.

    Does that make sense?

  19. Hi CC. I simply believe that Eve wasn’t totally informed and that Satan’s knowing this was his reason for approaching her-NOT some “woman is mentally weaker than man” reason. Thanks for your conversation; your conclusion of the faults of the blame game, anyway, is the same as mine.

  20. While I agree there can be problems with propogating and excusing victim mentalities, we cannot and should not too quickly or wrongly assume that real abuse is not happening. In fact, it is actually the more subtle abuses that go unnoticed and become justified, and then the perpetrator can continue in their ways.

    Narcissism (perhaps one of the sicknesses spoken of in this post that have been labeled?) carries acute characteristics, some of which are manipulating everyone in the extended friend and family circle that he or she is not the problem. Once the abusive cycle is fast in motion, the victim generally will not play victim-instead they will blame themselves and go too softly on the abuser. I do not think all sins retain labels to explain them away, but perhaps to categorize for aid and help-so that one who exhibits abuse or one is is udner abuse-recognizes clearly the patterns. Also, in seeking treatment it can be helpful to categorize sins as often people who have sinned in that common manner before, have laid out helpful steps in overcoming that sin. Perhaps not taking responsibility is wrong, but I do not see how labeling is wrong.

    Furthermore, many abused people often do most of the work in that abusive relationship. They take on more than is theirs to own up to. Again, characteristic. It does not normally play out with the abused crying victim, but rather-the other way around!

    Many women I know were sucked into believing they were the ones who were wrong, and owning up to all their part in it, never made the abuser stop abusing.

    It is also logical to note that someone who is trapped in an abusive situation does indeed soemtimes deal with it in a negative way, but abuse is hard to live properly under, that is why it is abusive. It drains the life, energy, identity, and will right out of the soul. A person living with abuse cannot be expected to be a quiverful, homeschooling, church-serving individual. First things first.

    In all, I do agree that the person should be faulted, not the lifestyle. Unfortunately, these types of lifestyles also are set up in a manner to hide abuse cleverly.

  21. The funny thing is, Ello, that sometimes the person bellowing and bellyaching about abuse IS the abuser themselves. How often do beating husbands blame their wives? Or nagging wives their husbands? Real abuse victims are often quieter, whereas the nastiest emotionally abusive people sometimes try to place the victim spotlight on themselves. I know of a woman who relentlessly emotionally brutalized and stalked another woman for months online. She’d also show up on this woman’s friends’ blogs, causing as big a stink as she could regarding their beliefs. Finally the first woman’s husband sent her a message to stop her behavior, and her reputation online caught up with her, resulting in public shunning. The result? She screamed abuse. Claiming she was being bullied when a given group on a blog collectively asked her to back off, and twisting events with her initial target around to switch blame. Three years later now, any and all people hurt by her have long since moved on and no longer speak to her. She, however, continues to tell her sad tale of abuse and smear these women whenever she feels the opportunity is present.

  22. A question: how does one balance the command to “honor they father and mother” if the parents are utterly self-absorbed, disrespectful of the time of others (expecting their children with new babies to cater to them), nasty, negative, and manipulative? My closest friend and her sister are burdened with parents who make life miserable for anyone near them. How should she honor her parents? Can she do this while not having a relationship with them?

    Or, can you point me to some resources on this issue?

  23. Kelly, this post was very compelling to me. Especially with the recent tragic events in my life. I especially loved this: “There is little teaching about taking responsibility for one’s actions and putting blame squarely where blame is due.”

    As the daughter of an alcoholic who recently committed suicide, I feel compassion for those who see themselves as victims–especially those who suffer from mental illness. My dad, for example, was a victim of childhood abuse from an alocholic father of his own, and he obviously suffered from depression and other mental disorders. That said, if my father could have owned up to the part he played in the downward spiral of his life, repented of his own snowballing life of sin, and sought help, it is my conviction that he would now be alive.

    May we who know the freedom of Christ never be afraid to help others into the light–even if they think it was someone or something else that buried them in the darkness.

  24. Jennifer brings up a good point. If I happen to be in the car during the time Dr. Laura is on, I’ll listen to her. So often a woman calls in crying abuse. After Dr. Laura digs a little so often the abuse isn’t real abuse, just an offense or the woman herself is the abusive one.

  25. This is a really interesting post. I’ve been mulling it over for a few hours, wondering how (or if) to respond and finally decided to write.

    I experienced legitimate physical, verbal, and s-xual abuse from a “boyfriend” for about two years. It took me a long time to see myself as more than a victim. I was bitter: with myself, with the other person, with my parents (for neither seeing nor stopping it), with my friends (for the same), and with God.

    I don’t see myself as a victim anymore. I see myself as someone who experienced something bad, but who is still a child of God – a whole person. I need God’s grace every day just as much as the abuser does.

    That I was abused doesn’t give me the “right” to throw out all of male/female relationships and the divine institution of marriage. Marriage itself didn’t hurt me. God didn’t hurt me. This person hurt me, for reasons beyond my knowledge or control.

    Kate brings up a good point. I feel anger with people who claim “abuse” when it’s not a legitimate situation. It’s not a joke, and yet it’s treated all too lightly by too many women (and men) alike as a catch-all term.

    If I could give several recommendations to women and men who go to others and say they’re in abusive situations, they would be as follows:

    1. Document incidents to the best of your ability. Write what the other person did, what you did, and how each of you reacted.

    2. Research the laws on stalking and harassment in your state, especially those that relate to online harassment.

    3. Try to avoid being in situations where you’ll be alone with the other person.

    4. Seek counseling, whether it’s from a pastor or elder in your church, or someone in the community.

    If someone comes to you and says that he or she is in an abusive situation, please listen. Ask how actions or reactions made that person feel. Ask what you and others can do – specifically – to support the person, the family, and any children that might be in the household.

    When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with kindness, calmness, and gentleness.

    It took me a very long time to say the word “abuse” out loud. I would imagine that this is true for many people who have been in similar situations but, I’m only speaking from my own experience. It’s extremely hard to generalize about abusive circumstances.

    I think Bethany hit the nail on the head: “May we who know the freedom of Christ never be afraid to help others into the light–even if they think it was someone or something else that buried them in the darkness.”

  26. Hi, Kelly ~ I submitted a comment & it didn’t post. Is it up? (Am I missing something?) I can post it again if necessary but wanted to check first. Thank you 🙂

  27. This reminds me of a baby and mom class I took years ago… the instructor a youngish mom always came in late and on the verge of tears everyone was very sympathetic as they all attended church with her and knew her situation , later on one day I ran into her at a grocery and she said she wanted to take me into her confidence as she was so comfortable now after having class together, that she was abused by her husband daily but the bruises were only on her heart and soul not physically, and even though she was a believer she and her many friends began to believe divorce was the only answer…. the abuse ? Well that very morning he had actually not heard her when she asked him something because he was watching the morning news , this frequently happened and he would not sit with her while she poured out her feelings and he seemed busy and she didn’t feel like she was number one in his life. I felt bad for this woman because she was completely over her head in the victim game This is NOT the only time I have heard wives describe their husbands as abusers for simply being men.

  28. Karen,

    You bring up a very important point. While I pray no one ever mistakenly assumes that I am not very concerned about real abuse (we are friends with a family right now going through non-physical abuse), the definition of abuse is so misused, as you pointed out.

    And even in some cases where a woman claims oppression because her husband told her something he wanted her to do (have the laundry done at a certain time, in a certain way, etc.), the same woman would cheerfully “obey” a boss who diplomatically expressed his expectations because there was a job to get done and his assistant was an important part of helping him do that job.

    What I’m saying is, there are men who are men, who should fully expect that their wives are part of his team and may give instruction or express desires that don’t coddle her emotionalism (I’m guilty of this!) but aren’t abusive. I think there’s an epidemic of such going on right now.

    I grew up with a loving, command-man father who married a woman who understands her role as helper. He often calls in the middle of her day and asks her to go to town to get something for him. He doesn’t sugar-coat things, he’s just got a job to do and both of them know she’s an important part of that job.

    If she were given to emotionalism, she could scream “abuse” every day of the week. But as she understands her role, his role and the fact that he loves her dearly but he’s not a woman, and they have a beautiful, sweet marriage.

    Yes, we must distinguish the difference in real and perceived abuse. But for the women who want their husbands to act like women, I would admonish them in the spirit of gentleness to “get over it”. (I’m talking to myself too, by the way.)

  29. I am glad so many are compassionate to the plight of the truly abused. As Christians we have to be. We should also be able to look beyond our personal experiences of real abuse to see this very real victim mentality, too. We can teach our children to be responsible people all the while teaching them to have outstretched arms to those in any kind of need. Those two teachings are not mutually exclusive. This is a quote from Kelly’s post I think some people missed:

    “There is a real kind of abuse in the world. I’m no stranger to it, having grown up caring for children all our lives who came from abused homes. Some abuse is hidden and some do suffer in silence. That abuse needs to be dealt with.”

  30. As for that last point, while I certainly don’t think even a bossy husband is abusive, there’s something perfectly unfeminine and very manly to be said about respect. Women put up with workplace bosses’ demands more readily because they ARE bosses, but marriage is different; the husband is not boss over his wife, anymore than a woman is a “helpmeet” to her boss at work. He should treat her as a partner and not an employee to get all his work done, and she does have her own work to do as a servant of God.

  31. Jennifer,

    You know I (we) don’t advocate the kind of cowering image feminists like to paint of hierarchy in marriage. But I won’t back down from clear, biblical teaching. So while the husband is not a “boss” he is a “head”. Call it what you like, it is perfectly reasonable for him to request things of his wife, just as she may also do. But if my husband says, “Kelly, I don’t think the laundry is having proper attention given to it–please fix that”, that is not something for me to whine about, much less call “abuse”. That’s the kind of distinctions we need to be making. I’ve heard a woman claim abuse because her husband did not wish to have a television. That’s not abuse. He does have the authority to make that decision if he deems it necessary or important for his family. A godly husband will do it in love, but he needn’t be afraid of being called an abuser, even if he makes diplomatic requests from time to time. If I seem a little “Dr. Laura-ish” it’s because, like her, I’m tired of hearing the whining wife who thinks she woke up as the center of the universe and then turns around and yells “abuse” over every little thing.

  32. Hope it’s okay to chip in here.

    I agree with the main point of the post, Kelly. Americans are, on the whole, soft. And we tend to whine over ridiculous “hardships” when we compare to what many people in other countries must daily endure for the sake of true, God-honoring righteousness.

    That said, neglect (physical, mental, spiritual)is a form of abuse. That goes for the husband who is “just being a man” and shutting himself off from meaningful interaction with his wife and the mom who habitually ignores the need to change her baby’s filthy diaper. It is a wrong use of a relationship which, strictly speaking, is abuse of it.

    Not all abuse ought to be criminally charged, but nevertheless, it’s important to look at the whole picture and, as you said, recognize the need to accept responsibility for one’s own wrongness. It’s easy to say to someone else “You’re just being a baby” rather than admit to also being selfish.

    Concerning the woman being deceived and Paul’s treatment of marriage: He stated plainly what marriage is primarily about in

    Ephesians 5:32-33
    This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;
    however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

    It has really very little to do with who’s smarter or older or who’s more at fault when things go wrong. Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was certainly not kicked back in his recliner, “just being a man” while He demanded that His woman do what He wants–even though He definitely has things He wants her to be doing.

    The woman, being the “weaker vessel”, symbolizes Christ’s Church, which is certainly much more fragile and subject to deception than He (the Bridegroom). The Bride, once dead in sin, was formerly incapable of returning His affection, but now responds out of gratitude and appreciation for what He first did for her.

    Married believers have been entrusted to “role play” for the watching world the relationship between Christ and the Bride He purchased with His own Life.

    Ultimately, the way we live out our marriages reflects on Who Jesus is and what we, as believers think of Him.

  33. which is certainly much more fragile and subject to deception than He (the Bridegroom).

    I was not suggesting that Jesus Christ is subject to being deceived, BTW. Just making a comparison between the positions of husband/Christ and wife/Church.

  34. Heather,

    Whole-heartedly agreed, as I have tried to emphasize here many times about the crucial purpose of marriage as it relates to Christ.

    And I agree..neglect can be a form of abuse. It’s a balancing act–if you talk about one side, the other side seems to be excluded. That’s NOT what I’m trying to do.

    After hearing over and over of “abuse this and abuse that” and hearing the said abuses (“he doesn’t want us to have a tv.”, etc., I think it’s important to point out the need for some of us women to grow up (and help us parents not to raise such women).

    I realize it’s delicate and not always so clearly defined. I am MOST tenderly compassionate for those in abusive situations. I don’t advocate a woman staying in such.

    Actually, much of what prompted this post wasn’t about wives and husbands, but a recent “onslaught” of older daughters who, because they had a fair share of work to do in the family, and because they grew up to learn that, alas, they were not the center of the universe, they’ve now publicly decried their parents, villainized them, forgetting that parents, too, are human, and in much need of grace….well, I could go on but I won’t 😉 It’s a particular instance that I’ve seen recur several times lately that prompted me to write.

    In doing so, clarity of my purpose may be elusive.

  35. I think I’m following you, Kelly. 🙂
    Just couldn’t resist jumping onto the marriage bandwagon.

    I have noticed it is often true that older siblings (especially in larger families) often get more put on them than the youngers–even as the youngers grow and move into a supposedly more responsible category. It’s just so much easier to expect the already trained ones to pick up the slack, I think.

    It’s an area we parents need to be careful to remain on guard because it can be easy to unconsciously coddle the “baby” of the family when the elder siblings remember quite well what they were expected to do at “that age”.

    That said, I do think you’ve made a good point concerning the difference between being expected to be a responsible member of one’s family and actually being mistreated.

    We are all sinful and naturally self-centered and like to think that our own discomfort must be someone else’s fault when really, life can just be plain uncomfortable sometimes…

  36. Your points are valid, Heather. Both Michael Pearl and Nancy Wilson point out the harms of treating older siblings like mini-Mommies, which responsible parents know to avoid.

  37. I do believe the husband is head of the wife, just not the way that comps do. Even most comps, however, recognize that the wife is an individual with unique purposes of her own for God and not just someone taylor-made from birth to fit a man’s needs.

  38. “The woman, being the “weaker vessel”, symbolizes Christ’s Church, which is certainly much more fragile and subject to deception”

    I think that’s cutting way too close to the matter of Christ and His Bride. A woman, unlike the church, is not utterly lost without her groom to guide her, nor is he the purifying Priest she needs. The weaker vessel description refers to a woman’s physical attributes, not her spiritual/mental ones.

  39. Jennifer,

    You’re welcome to disagree with me but I think you misunderstood what I was saying.

    There is a consistent application between Christ/husband and Church/Wife. I was not confusing physical weakness with spiritual/mental inferiority.

    I’ll try again:

    Marriage is simply a physical picture of a spiritual reality and we are instructed to honor the picture.

    A woman, as a physically weaker vessel (and the one who was deceived and is told to be quiet in the assembly and learn from her husband) represents the spiritual reality that the Church is completely reliant on Christ and is subject to Him. In no way am I suggesting that Paul said women are inferior to men in God’s eyes or that their husbands are to be literally viewed as intermediating “priests” in the woman’s salvation.

    God’s given us a physical picture of a spiritual reality even from “the beginning”. When we mess up the family portrait with checked-out husbands, feministic baloney, and out of control kids, the picture of the intended relationship between Christ and His Bride is obscured.

    Both spouses are instructed to strive to faithfully reflect this portrait of what God is doing with His people. The husband is not “saving” his wife by being a good husband…he is honoring Christ by obediently doing his part to show others what Jesus is doing.

  40. Women were not deceived, Eve was; that’s a weapon I’ve seen used against women for ages. I know you didn’t say husbands are priests, but it often comes to that when people edge too far in their comparisons of women to the church; some, in fact, do claim that hubbies are prophets, priests and kings.

  41. Eve was deceived. Any human being can be deceived. And yes, I’m aware that the “deceived woman” line of thinking has led to some wrong teaching.

    But I don’t see how that negates the potential for women in general to be more easily deceived than men.

    people edge too far in their comparisons of women to the church;

    Quite frankly, I believe the misinterpretation and abuses would be far less likely to occur if we made a more clear connection between the role of wives and that of the Church. But as I said, I’m not trying to force you to agree with me.

  42. In a time when adultery is so rampant, it is easy (and our society would fully encourage and support) for the woman (or one cheated on) to escape into a victim mentality. There is a balm in Gilead for all who claim God’s word for their healing. He is our healer. It is a lie from Satan to stay victimized. I highly recommend Kathy Gahllager’s book, When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart. To all women who have been devasted by infidelity: God wants to heal your broken heart- you don’t have to be a vicitm.

  43. I am an “older daughter” who was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually abused as a teenager. I also was co-parent with my mom to my five younger siblings, as my father was absent, neglectful, and abusive. However, I don’t claim that the fact that I was pushed into an adult parent position at age 14 was abuse. But I finally escaped the legitimate abuse at age 19.

    Please don’t downplay the thousands of daughters that have been wounded beyond belief by the traditional patriarchial family. Such models are attractive to narccicist’s; it doesn’t make Biblical headship wrong (my husband and I practice Biblical headship), it is just a warning that that what God intended to be a beautiful partnership has in many cases been warped into a controlling and abusive pattern by husbands and fathers.

    If an older daughter comes to you for help, probe further and make sure there isn’t legitimate abuse before dissing her; sometimes the more flippant complaints can be a guise, and a cry for help from girls who can’t verbalize the true abuse yet.

  44. Jessica,

    Do you mind sharing specifically how you were abused, so those reading would even know how to recognize what you are describing?

  45. Tess,

    I’m probably not qualified to answer this question but I would say that one can honor parents and still set boundaries when needed. What those look like are different for each family, but I’ve seen it done in an honoring way, even while the parents of the adult, married children were slanderous and mean.

  46. Great post, Kelly! Amen!

    Jessica, you wrote:

    “Please don’t downplay the thousands of daughters that have been wounded beyond belief by the traditional patriarchial family.”

    Daughters are not wounded by “the traditional patriarchal family.” They are wounded by sin. You could plug in “Christian family” and it would be just as ridiculous.

    There may be men who sinfully abuse their authority, but that doesn’t nullify their authority, nor their responsibility. The fact that a police officer sins doesn’t mean the concept of a police force is wicked to the core. Poor, poor logic.

    Thank you, Kelly, for sharing on this much needed subject.

  47. Apparently she’s saying that daughters in severly patriarchal families have been wounded more often than in regular Christian families.

  48. Ack – I just commented and lost it all somehow. I hate that. Let me try again.

    Jennifer, that is like saying that daughters in “severely Christian” families have been wounded more often than in “regular families.”

    We can’t blame our own sin on a biblical principle. Jessica says she believes in biblical headship, but she is blaming it for her abuse (though I don’t think she intends to).

    The fact is that any man who (truly) abuses his family does so because of his own wicked, sinful heart. You can’t blame “traditional patriarchy” (a biblical principle) for the sins of man. To do so seems almost blasphemous because it implies something that is untrue about the nature and goodness of God. Again, God doesn’t give us a biblical principle to live by and then use it to stumble us or cause abuse.

    Another thing to remember is that “suffering” does not necessarily equal abuse. If God ordains a trial in our lives (I’m thinking how Jessica describes helping her mother during their family’s neglect from her father), we should view it as a gift that God is using to mold us and shape us more into his image.

    We are only slaves if we act/think like slaves. If you serve the Lord cheerfully and with thankfulness to God for the circumstances He has allowed, then no man can make you his slave – ever. Because regardless of who you are called to serve, you will really be serving the Most High God.

    “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:22-25, NKJV)

    To dwell in the midst of bitterness and complaining is to give in to the Evil One who wishes to enslave not only your body, but your soul too.

  49. Hi Stacy. I’ve heard of abuse in severly (rather than merely traditional) patriarchal families more often than other sorts. If the husband thinks he’s entitled to a lofty sort of authority he’s not meant to have (like being his family’s prophet or priest), that kind of thinking automatically harms a person’s mind. Helping a family is one thing, but it sounds like Jessica was trained to think she was meant to be restricted to this in an unhealthy fashion and therefore suffered spiritually, rather than merely physically with hard work.

  50. Jennifer, I used the word “traditional” because that is what Jessica used. “…wounded beyond belief by the traditional patriarchial family.”

    However, even your choice of “severely” doesn’t work. It’s still like saying someone is “too Christian,” and that’s why a certain sin took place.

    Men who abuse their power are not “overdoing” patriarchy, they aren’t practicing patriarchy AT ALL.

  51. Stacy,

    Very well articulated. I’ve been trying to make this distinction for a long time (usually to little avail). No one tolerates this transference in any other situations (as you have demonstrated) but still it continues to be so regarding biblical patriarchy.

    The conclusion seems to be then, that it’s not “patriarchy” itself that we rebel against, but our understanding of God-ordained authority, the basic tenet of true patriarchy, nothing more, nothing less.

  52. “It’s still like saying someone is “too Christian,” and that’s why a certain sin took place”

    Not at all; patriarchy by itself is not automatically synonymous with Christianity. Patriarchy means male/father rule, not Godly father rule, and there are dozens of ways to do the former. Severe patriarchy means a father who rules with an iron fist or a controlling mind, neither of which is Christian.

  53. I know that men exist who hide behind the guise of biblical patriarchy so that they can feed their own desire for power and tyranny. There is nothing new under the sun. The problem is that there has been a concerted effort to throw everyone who believes in biblical headship under the wagon. A convenient tactic.

    The word and those who use it have been vilified because of a hand full of “wackos.”

    I’ve seen “patriarchal families” implicated by vague suggestions of polygamy, child molestation, cult involvement, brainwashing, and domestic abuse. That is insane. Yes, there are people who are guilty of these things, but it has no more to do with their “claims” of patriarchy as it does their claims of Christianity. If they claim to be a biblically patriarchal family, they are guilty of false impersonation.

  54. “If they claim to be a biblically patriarchal family, they are guilty of false impersonation”

    Yes, that’s been my concern.

  55. Jennifer,

    That doesn’t really make sense, though. We are defending the fact that those who teach real biblical patriarchy (though I know you would disagree) do NOT teach your definition of it (“a father who rules with an iron fist or a controlling mind”).

    True patriarchy teaches what the Bible teaches–husband headship compared to a loving Christ who cherishes his bride and treats her “as his own flesh”.

    Until these distinctions are clearly understood and verbalized, slander and lies continue to be spread about the wrong people.

    Call an abuser an abuser. But do not call the teaching (or those that articulate it) that the abuser FALSELY claims to follow the abuser.

  56. Sometimes I hate pronouns. 🙂 Let me restate that:

    If an abuser claims to be operating under the teaching of biblical patriarchy, he is guilty of false impersonation. Again, their abuse has no more to do with their “claims” of patriarchy as it does their claims of Christianity.

    There are doctors who have abused their patients. Does that mean that anyone who seeks to be a doctor is doing so out of a desire to abuse his patients? Obviously not. Same concept.

  57. No you were clear, Stacy.

    “We are defending the fact that those who teach real biblical patriarchy (though I know you would disagree) do NOT teach your definition of it (“a father who rules with an iron fist or a controlling mind”).”

    I know you don’t Kelly, nor do I think any true Christians practice that sort; I agree with Stacy’s assessment that only abusive ones do, like so many in certain Mormon sects. It’s clear to me by the strong spirit of your writing that you’ve never been abused by such a practice in your own family; Stacy’s given the same impression. That’s the whole thing: there are many different kinds of patriarchy. My point is that the definition of patriarchy is in fact father-rule; there’s nothing in the definition about it being benevolent father-rule. Whether it’s Christian or not depends on the practioners, not the practice itself. This is why I don’t compare it to medicine or doctoring. And yes, while I don’t personally care for patriarchy, I do know there’s a healthy and Godly way to do it.

  58. Jennifer,

    “the definition of patriarchy is in fact father-rule”

    To clarify, it can be “father-rule” but is more accurately defined “husband-rule”.

    Now, that word “rule” there is what’s “upping your dander”.

    Biblical patriarchy limits its definition to the definition of Scripture. This is the crux…listen and don’t just start typing, if you are really interested in hearing.

    “Rule” in your (society’s) definition is only the right definition if it is referencing what the Bible says about father/husband leadership.

    Stacy is right. There needs to be two separate words. One for an abusive male leadership, and one for the biblical tents of male leadership, with which a true Christian can NOT deny.

    We already have the word “patriarch” though, so you guys will need to find a different one 😉 and erase from your mind the unpalatable connotations our culture has given to it.

  59. Many true Christians do deny it, Kelly. We believe in leadership from both genders, but not rule as it’s generally known. Even in the authority sense, the Bible never tells the husband to rule the wife. Many Christians have discovered that the Bible speaks far more of fellowship than it does of anyone ruling. Men and women are both called to leadership and authority, but the “rule” concept has negative connotations because thousands in history have given it such; it’s not just a matter of modern people overreacting for no reason. Humans are fickle and foolish creatures who have a hard time NOT messing up the “rule” concept. Those who focus more on fellowshipping with each other and letting God do the major ruling seem to be under a much lighter load. That’s not to say that you and Stacy are under a heavier one; by all appearances you too have a great partnership with your husbands and fellowship with other Christian brothers that doesn’t make male-rule the core focus, whether it’s inherently patriarchal or not.

    “There needs to be two separate words. One for an abusive male leadership”

    Oh there is. Patrio, or patriocentricity.

  60. Jennifer,

    “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.”

    You won’t make ground here. We love God’s Word, even the part the world hates. We believe in its clear teaching of headship. We believe in Christ-centered homes with a hierarchy that is founded upon “loving others as yourself”. We also love Vision Forum who teaches the same thing.

    This is the end.