Family Feud: Attack the Apostate Edition

Some family has been staying with me over the past few days.

Soccer girl, the 12 year old cousin, an aunt B and my mom.  Soccer girl is homeschooled in the Southern States and is in contact with Quiverful Movement homeschoolers.

This morning, I dropped Lil’T off at preschool and was getting Minor-C down for a nap and listening to the conversations.

Aunt B: There are so many sad people in this world.  Even those with lots of money are just empty in their hearts.

Soccer Girl: Thats cuz they don’t have Jesus in their hearts.

———————————

Aunt B: It is so hard to watch mom get old.

Soccer Girl: But the older you get, the closer you get to God.  At least, if you’re a Christian.

——————————

Soccer Girl: I want to watch The Passion, but my parents think its not appropriate even when I turn 14.

Aunt B: But it is so important to see what actually happened, so that you really appreciate what Jesus did for us.

———————

Baby fell asleep and I rejoined the group.

Aunt B was telling the story of her daughter’s only non-abusive boyfriend.  My cousin and this man got along so well; they would talk for hours.  They were best friends and he was the only guy she ever dated who really respected women.

But, he wasn’t a Christian.

So, she refused to marry him.  He eventually married someone else, and she has been treated like shit by fine upstanding Christian men ever since.  And she takes it, because she doesn’t think she is worthy of anything else.

I said that I would rather see her married to a man who respects her than one who doesn’t, Christian or not.

Ooops.

The grilling began.

A lot of non-Christians don’t think you need to be married to have sex.

I knew that.

What did I think of sex outside of marriage?

I told them.

But, what if my daughters did that?  How could I watch them become sterile cesspools of venereal diseases with no committed relationship?

When I started to explain that putting a higher value on respect than church sanctioned behaviours was the opposite of condoning harmful behaviours, I was cut off.

“I follow the rules because they are God’s rules,” my mother emphatically stated.  (Ok, yelled.)  “What do you think of God?”

So, I started to share what I thought of god.

“No, that’s just her experience!” interrupted my mom.  “That isn’t who God is!  I know because I’ve experienced His love!”

Me: “No, mom, I’m telling you about the god of the bible and how its impacted me.”

Mom: “And where did you get those ideas?  From Satan!”

Me: “No, from reading the bible.”

Mom: “I never taught you to read it like that!  How could I have failed you?”

Me: “Umm, I learned to read.  I read it.  Its in there.  The book that talks about dashing babies’ heads on rocks?  That commands murder?  That values certain lives above others?  The schizophrenic god that in one place delights in killing and in others pleads for mercy for the unfortunate?  I’m not making it up.”

Mom: “God isn’t schizophrenic, its our minds that are!”

Aunt B: “It talks about dashing babies’ heads against rocks?”

Me: “Psalms.  Now I understand many Christians just ignore the nasty parts and focus on the loving parts, but I’m not that kind of pragmatic.  I really tried to make it work.”

Mom: “I did too, and I didn’t understand.  But then I realized that my mind deceives me and I just have to take things by faith.”

Aunt B: “I know what you’re going through.  When I watched my husband suffer and die with cancer, I wondered where god was.  But, I know that something is there.  And God commanded the deaths of those other nations because he knew they would cause the Israelites to worship other gods.  It was really merciful.  The same with Japan.”

“Its like a parent who will let their child touch a hot stove.  That is the only way they learn.  To never let them do things is unloving”  (Ok, killing people is loving?  But letting them explore sexually is not?)

Then the ‘conversation’ went downhill.  Two adults yelling at me that God is love.  God loves me.  We don’t understand because we’re finite.  On and on.  Soccer girl looked bored.

My mom had tears in her eyes.  Likely for anguish over my lost soul.  Or for the shame at having an apostate daughter.

When I got up, nearly 2 hours later, to get Lil’T from preschool, one of them grabbed my arm.
“Don’t you run away!”

Oh, how I wanted to!  When I told my husband about it later, he asked why I didn’t just leave.

I didn’t think of it. 

I cancelled a playdate with a friend in order to entertain family.  Right now the value of family loyalty is not so appealing 🙂

28 thoughts on “Family Feud: Attack the Apostate Edition

  1. HeIsSailing says:

    “…God commanded the deaths of those other nations because he knew they would cause the Israelites to worship other gods. It was really merciful. The same with Japan.”

    I recently had this same line of reasoning thrown at me by an old ex-church friend. I confess I got exasperated at this. Here was my friend from church, as sweet a person as could be, defending “Biblical” slavery and “Biblical Genocide”

    She got herself tied up in knots when I began questioning her.

    “So sometimes Slavery is good?”

    “NO! That is not what I am saying”

    “You admit that God regulated slavery and commanded genocide, so how could God command things that are not good?”

    “It was in their culture! Slavery was just! It was better than killing people!”

    “God did order genocide. He did order people be killed”

    “But they were evil people! And God is just!”

    “So killing whole nations of people is the right and just thing to do, if God tells you to do it”

    “Yes! – I mean… ”

    “Wouldn’t it have been better if God just outlawed all slavery and genocide? Somewhere in the Bible, that command would have been given? Think of how history would have been subsequently different!”

    “It is implied in the Bible. God can’t put every specific moral detail in the Bible. How long do you think the Bible would be??”

    “THOU SHALT NOT OWN SLAVES. There. Five words. If you are concerned about length, you can replace half the old testament with those five words and Christians would never notice the loss.”

    “But But But But…”

    I could not believe this woman was actually defending slavery and genocide. She would say ANYTHING to apologize for her Bible and her God. I tried to explain to her that she was sacrificing her own innate sense of morality to defend her religious values, but she really had no response to that reasoning – I don’t think she understood me.

    • Grace says:

      Do you feel that the taking of human lives can ever be justified in any case? Is there ever a time when in an imperfect, and fallen world it could be the lesser of the evils?

      It is my understanding that some of these cultures of ancient times described in the Scripture such as the Cannaanites were exceedingly wicked practicing even child sacrifice by fire, and their mission was to destroy the Israelites. They had four hundred years to reverse their path toward self-destruction, but did not.

      What if God had allowed them to continue, and wipe out the ancient Hebrew people, and with them the Messianic line which as Christians believe resulting in the redemption of the whole earth? Would this have actually been a more humane and righteous course of action?

      There are hard passages in the Scripture for sure, but I don’t know that it’s as black or white as it might seem looking from the outside.

      More than anything I value human life, and want to be a peace maker, but at the same time I can understand how sometimes force, even lethal force may actually be the more humane option in the face of relentless evil.

      • D'Ma says:

        This same exact thing has been preached from the pulpit and taught in Sunday School at the church I attend. Honestly, until recently, I had never undertaken it to read Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Leviticus in their entirety. Sure I’d probably read all of it in snippets appropriately cherry-picked for Sunday School lessons or to make a particular point in a devotional. But book by book, front to back. No, I hadn’t. And when I did I had an eye opening experience.

        There are laws about what happens if you leave your stuff with your neighbor and it goes missing. There are laws about what happens if you beat your slave by degrees of damage done. If you knock out a tooth or an eye they get their freedom.

        So I’m with you on that one HeIsSailing. There’s a whole section devoted to how you can treat your slaves and where to get them from. Would’a been a whole lot easier and shorter to just write, “Thou shalt no own slaves.” Kinda falls under, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. You don’t want to be a slave, don’t be takin’ any slaves.

      • prairienymph says:

        Well, there is child sacrifice in the name of Jehovah too. (Jephthah’s daughter for example)
        We like to tell ourselves that other nations were worse and that the treatment of the Hebrews by punishing them only if they beat their slaves so much they couldn’t get up and wait on them the next day was sooo much better than what the Canaanites were doing. BS.
        Reading the laws of the other nations, they weren’t much different and in some ways were better. For example, the treatment of women in some of the surrounding nations was superior to the Hebrews’.

        The people I would be happy to see killed are those who delight in torturing and tormenting other life forms. Those who have no remorse when carrying out the most henious of acts are clearly dangerous. There is no evidence that all of those surrounding nations were like that. No evidence. There is evidence that the god of the OT does delight in such acts at times. All depends on which book you are reading.

        Try reading the scriptures, not to justify what happened, or to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, but as the compassionate intelligent person you are. Pretend that you have no stake in proving the scriptures right or wrong. Change the names of the characters. Your compassion and value for life will not find THE answer in that book. You would be a kind person if you were Muslim, Hindu or agnostic. That is why you try and explain away the nasty things in the bible instead of taking them as your guide for goodness.

  2. You are a brave but foolhardy girl. Many hugs for having courage to even engage with your family. Religion creates an incapacity to think, doesn’t it?

    Just think, when these “Christians” gain political power, they will make the Taliban look like moderates. And, like Robespierre and Danton or Lenin and Stalin, once they are done with one set of enemies, they will start on their own kind.

    Take care of your little ones.

    • prairienymph says:

      There is such a fear around thinking in that family. University education is scorned, even though my grandma was always at the top of her class. Thinking about the bible is in the same category as having a mental illness.
      These are smart people, but they put huge blocks around certain topics.

      It isn’t just religion, but challenging any status-quo.

  3. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.-Voltaire

  4. Oh my. The cognitive dissonance must be forcing them into all kinds of corners and feats of mental gymnastics. It’s very frustrating to try and have a rational and respectful discussion about religion with people who are neither rational nor respectful when it comes to your right to think critically.

    Yet … at the same time … having these kinds of conversation sometimes makes me feel more powerful and smarter. Do you know what I mean? My believing family all know where I stand and they’re too terrified to talk to me about religion. Logic and reason are too scary.

    Way to stand up for yourself and be honest, pairie nymph.

    • prairienymph says:

      I might have felt powerful and smart had I been able to discuss, but I mostly reacted. As it was, I ended up yelling back. I lost the yelling match though, too much of my dad in me.
      My family doesn’t really know where I stand because as soon as they heard that I don’t believe what the bible says to be divine truth, they put me into a little box and started telling me what I think about things. That little straw-man is easier to attack. Most of the yelling became
      – you think this
      — no i don’t! i think…
      – you think this! but god is bigger than you.

  5. Ahab says:

    My God, what a headache! You must have amazing fortitude to endure such a crowd.

    I’m constantly amazed at the mental acrobatics that Christians go through to avoid confronting the horrors of the Bible, such as genocide and slavery. If they faced the full ethical implications of their holy book, it would tear their faith apart, and many are not brave enough to do so.

    I had a similar conversation about genocide in the Bible with a fundamentalist, who swept it aside by saying, “That was the Old Testament. God has a new covenant now.” SO!? Guuuuuh . . .

    • prairienymph says:

      The crowd is one that you want around you in a crisis. They are the ones who give you their last bit of bread and go hungry. My problem is that I am rejecting their tribe’s values of obedience to authority.

      That OT/NT thing is easy to explain. I was talking with a pastor’s wife who remarked on the “incongruencies” of the old and new testaments’ gods. When I mentioned there were incongruencies in the OT too, she changed the subject. Jesus is the explanation they can hold onto. When it becomes more complex than BC/AD differences, the theory falls apart.

  6. D'Ma says:

    PrairieNymph,

    You are in my thoughts. I bow to your superb ability to withstand these attacks from your family. With family like this, who needs enemies?

  7. ... Zoe ~ says:

    I wonder if soccer girl, aunt B and your mother slept that night?

    You can always take hubby’s advice and get up and leave next time. I’m thinking you’re going to have a next time.

    (((Hugs)))

  8. Lorena says:

    It is difficult to stand up to one’s family because the lines of authority were established so early in childhood. Even a hard ass, mean, grumpy woman like me tends to do exactly what mom wants. It’s a reflex.

    I’m sorry you couldn’t leave. But I’m not surprised. After all, you’re just human.

    Take care.

    • prairienymph says:

      Zoe- I’m pretty sure soccer girl slept. She informed me that she’d heard worse. I’m not sure what she meant by ‘worse’ 🙂
      Pretty sure that mom and Aunt B did not sleep well. Aunt B assumed that I ‘left’ god because I felt unloved by him. I’m sure she is now feeling guilty that she didn’t show me more love and is worrying if her son who drinks once in a while will ‘leave’ god too. Because the belief’s of the children are the mothers’ faults.

      Lorena- Part of me wants to make my mom happy, part of me wants to rub in her face that I’m different. Unlike your mom, mine was sick when I was little. My role wasn’t obedient child but protector. I feel like I have to protect her from emotional distress, while at the same time I enjoy baiting her as a way to protect myself from being her.
      Guess I’m just a jerk 🙂 Like everyone else.

  9. St.ain't says:

    You are carrying on an amazing high-wire act, trying to be heard and respected for your informed viewpoint when dealing with family members trapped by their narrow belief system. With the added burden of your childhood role as protector- what a mine field. How can you respect and love family members when they refuse to respect you? How can you find common ground and achieve a healthy balance?
    Those of us who have lost that battle with our families can only cringe at watching another family endure the skirmishes you describe in your blog.
    You are not a jerk; you have a mighty intellect that refuses to be silenced.

    • prairienymph says:

      I’ve never thought about respect in my family. It is interesting to watch how everyone tries to tell everyone else what to do. I used to think that was caring, but now it looks more disrespectful.
      Common ground… for a family that prides itself on being Christian and Conservative…. that requires social skills 🙂
      I know there is more to us than our religious and political affiliations. I recently found out my grandmother loved to dance! But she stopped dancing when she got involved in this church.

  10. Becky says:

    Prairie,

    We may have to agree to disagree about this. I do think there are many things in the Scripture that are simply stated as something that happened. You know because someone made a rash vow to the Lord, and sacrificed his daughter doesn’t mean that this is something that was a good thing, commanded by God.

    I come from a different kind of Christian tradition than your parents. In my church authority is centered not just in the Scripture, but also in Christian tradition as well as in human reason.

    I think it’s wonderful, and courageous that you’re questioning all these things, and wrestling with the text of the Scripture. To me, this honors God. He doesn’t expect us to check our minds at the church door. It show that you had taken your faith seriously. I would be pleased if you were my daughter. So sorry for your struggles with your family, Prairie. Wishing for for you the very best.

    I was an agnostic as a young person, and came to faith later. Knowing God in Christ really has made me a more compassionate person, less judgemental, although of course, I still have a long way to go, for sure.

    I would say my faith is more centered in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ , and what that means in my life, than in a book. To my mind, no book can be holy and perfect, only God.

    • prairienymph says:

      This may sound snarky, but I mean it to be sincere.

      That is great that your God sounds so healthy, although not surprising since its based on tradition of mythology instead of the Bible’s mythology there is a lot more flexibility. I also find life-inspiring sources in stories of our culture and others. For example, we enjoyed St. Patrick’s day this year and hunted for leprechauns. Not a very parallel analogy, but I mean to say that I recognize stories often have truth in them that is apart from facts and can be very beneficial.
      There is much more to our world than we can understand or comprehend. I have friends who find the beautiful liturgical traditions of the Anglican churches to be very inspiring and centering to their worlds.
      I cannot accept Jesus as holy and perfect, since some of his commands are obviously not perfect. I don’t have the personality to enjoy liturgy. I miss the community, but am learning to find it other ways.

      And yes, Jephthah’s case was not commanded by god, unlike Abraham’s. Still, if god stopped Isaac’s sacrifice for his glory then he was capable of it. Since he didn’t, to me it says that human life is not worth more than following the law of following through with a vow (if the one making it is male). Sacrificing a child to follow some arbitrary rule if he *could* have stopped it isn’t much better than ordering the sacrifice. Of course, since the bible’s interpretation of god isn’t really your god, then I’m guessing this probably doesn’t matter too much.

  11. Lorena says:

    Being the child of a sickly parent is no different from being the child of an alcoholic. The commonality is that you’re a child who needs care and attention, but instead of receiving you’re forced to give.

    I think all women should read up on co-dependency, but more so those whose needs weren’t satisfied in childhood.

  12. dsholland says:

    I misread the title, at first I thought it was a B-movie (but the “of” was missing) . Further down in the comments I guess you thought so too 😉

    • prairienymph says:

      I think the mere fact of my existence is interpreted as an attack.
      I wasn’t yelling at them that god is imaginary, just that they weren’t listening to me answer their questions. And I knew that saying I didn’t think all sex outside of marriage is necessarily bad would be seen as hostile, but I said it anyways. Just like I say that people with disabilities are not to be viewed as a drain on taxpayers. I’m so mean. rolls eyes.

      • ... Zoe ~ says:

        To make the roll eyes emoticon, first type in a *:* colon. Then type the word *roll*. Then type another colon *:*. Voila, it should look like this -> 🙄

        :mrgreen:

  13. I tried twice to post a web link to Skype Emoticons but it refuses to post.

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