The Huffington Post published an article today titled, “Doug Phillips: The Big Scandal You Didn’t Hear About and Why It Matters”. If you go to huffingtonpost.com and read it, what I am about to say might make more sense. Or don’t, up to you.
I was sitting here all ready to write a scathing review of this man. I made the mistake of asking for spelling help from my husband and spent the next twenty minutes debating the issue of fundamental Christian values, whether is was safe to call someone an abusive asshole or just an asshole in my blog, and who holds the book in our household. This is a phrase my husband has used to describe who makes the decisions.
We had an entire conversation a while ago about this and he explained that someone in the relationship had to hold the book. Someone in the relationship had to be in charge and someone had to make the decisions.
So just to clarify, today he asked who made the decision in our relationship and I told him we both did. He laughed which did not make me happy as I had been typing a rant about good old Doug whats his name. I told him that we both made the important decisions together. “Don’t we?” He thought about that and agreed that we did. With that settled ,he suggested that I write my blog about our discussion and my thoughts about that because that would be more interesting than my ripping this guy a new asshole. I thought it was a good idea.
Okay, I understand fundamental religions. I understand the concept of men being in charge. Hang in there. I am trying to be reasonable. And when I am all done, my husband said I could call him a tool. I told him that I would. Like I need his permission. Douche.
They are patriarchal. The men are in charge, the women are submissive, blah, blah, blah. Okay,I am still struggling with it. However, if some people choose to live this way, I am trying to respect it. For this system to work, everyone needs to be a good person, a person who acts with love, integrity, responsibility and kindness towards others. Yes, in my optimistic view of the world there are families and even communities where this might, can and probably even does work.
I think of the Amish community and a story I heard after the school shooting. The woman whose husband had shot and killed children in the school told this story and wrote a book about it. She said that the day of the shooting, men from the Amish community, men from the families of the children who died came to her home to make sure she was okay. In the face of their loss and grief, they thought of her. I was so touched by that story that I cried.
I have to at least suspect that a community capable of that kind of kindness might be getting it right in the way they treat each other. Or at least they are trying.
Unfortunately, there are always people who can’t be kind or respectful. They abuse their power. They abuse their wives and children. In that case, there should be a system to protect them within the fundamental religious system or any system. The man should not always be right, just because he is a man.
Everyone should have to follow the rules, men and women. Everyone should be treated with respect including the children.
I was involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a period of time and learned interesting things about them including that they do have a system of self regulating if someone is not following the rules. The Elders, yes men, are in charge. If someone in the congregation is, for example, cheating on his wife or is physically or emotionally abusive, an elder would speak to that person and counsel them in order to try to stop the behavior. If a behavior that is not Christian continued despite efforts of the Elders to help someone, they would be disfellowshiped. People in the congregation would no longer have contact with them. They would not be allowed to come to church. This is a big deal because the church family is really a family.
I have to say that there were nice people in this community that I liked and respected but my husband and I ultimately decided that this was not the life for us.
I am a feminist. I believe men and women should be treated equally. My husband is an intelligent man and I respect him, but I am not comfortable letting anyone make decisions for me. Period.
I grew up in a home where my parents were very controlling and abusive, so that could have a little something to do with that. My father was a sexist, abusive asshole. I can say that because I am certain of it. I lived it.
The fact that he was a Protestant really had nothing to do with the fact that he was abusive. I think it had more to do with the fact that his father beat the shit out of him when he was a child and up until he was fourteen years old and moved out of his house to go live on a dairy farm for room and board. He had anger issues. I suspect he had issues with alcohol when I was younger. He was still an asshole for beating me. My mother contributed in other ways. Not good ways. Yes, they did the best they could for all of you bleeding hearts out there. It was not good enough.
The bottom line is everyone has to make their own decisions about the way they will live. Children don’t have a choice. I feel sympathy for the women and children who are stuck in situations they don’t want to be in. I have been there. Not because of a fundamental religion, but because of abusive parents. Many children are in that position.
If you see or suspect child abuse, report it. Do whatever you can to help. There were neighbors who lived on either side of us who made a huge difference for me and my sister. I don’t know if they knew about the abuse. I don’t think anyone did.
The neighbors to our left, Lee and Virginia, often sat out on their front porch and played cards. They would invite me to play with them. Virginia called me pretty. That was something I never heard at home. They were nice to me. They talked to me. It was that simple.
The neighbors to the right were George and Beulah. They often had me and my younger sister, Charlie, over for dinner. We spent hours at their home just hanging out, playing quietly, just being there. It was a safe, quiet place. They were Catholic and I didn’t understand the mysterious words they spoke when George got home from work but I loved to listen to them say the Rosary. Then we’d have a delicious dinner and eventually head home for the evening.
There are no easy answers. It’s easy to label people, I guess. It’s easy to judge people because they believe something that you don’t. People are allowed to make different lifestyle choices, including living within fundamental religions. It’s not a choice I would make for myself. Abuse should never be tolerated within any lifestyle. And by the way, Bill, you are a tool. And I love you.