Category Archives: Family

Awkward Visits With Non-Fundy Family

Nothing can chill the blood in the veins of an ex-fundamentalist than the words “Hey, honey, your fundy relations are coming for dinner.”

The time spent with your fundamentalist relatives can be the some of the most painfully awkward hours of your life. The steps to the intricate dance of fundy social interaction are complex and fraught with peril. For example, whatever you do don’t mention dancing.

Hiding your ESV and books by Dan Brown are only the start. There’s also the way you’re dressed, where and what you eat, how long you should pray beforehand, and above all else, the topics of conversation.

That last item is by far the most dangerous one, for the fundy ear is tuned to pick up the slightest hint of liberalism and compromise. The simplest conversation can turn into a minefield of condemnation.

You: “So we were at the store last night…”

Fundy Relation:  “Last night was Sunday. Weren’t you in church?”

As quick as that a perfectly pleasant conversation can turn into an inquisition that will leave you screaming for the gentle mercies of the torture chamber. Tread lightly.

Among the topics to avoid are: books, movies, music, theology, work, family, friends, politics, current events, television, theater, or the internet. Even talking about childhood memories will only serve to highlight how far you’ve backslidden in the meantime.  In short, if you value your sanity, you’re pretty much stuck with the weather and four hours of making indeterminate noises of affirmation as you hear tales from the heart of fundyland.

Screw your courage to the sticking place and prepare to chit-chat pleasantly for all you’re worth.  Just remember, no matter how awkward it may be you can rejoice in the fact that when your relations leave they’re not taking you with them back to fundyland.

Keepers At Home Redux

Undesirable consequences of wives going out to work

a. Since she is bringing home part of the income she will want a voice in how it is spent.

b. Children to a babysitter — no discipline.

c. Contact with other men at work — temptation, flirting, unfaithfulness and divorce. It is no accident that the divorce rate has been climbing since World War II when women went to work for the war effort.

d. The husband will soon be expected to help with the housework – after all, it is unfair for him to expect her to work all day and then do all the housework.

e. Meals will be thrown together — leftovers and TV dinners.

f. Physical well-being will suffer — she cannot work all day and clean house all night; she is the “weaker vessel.”

g. Her spiritual life and that of her children will suffer.

h. The added income will lead to worldliness — the things of this world will become more preeminent in the life.

i. In attempting to make it up to the children you will spoil them — you feel guilty about leaving them so you let them do anything they want and you give them anything their little heart desires. This will not compensate for parental neglect nor will it cause them to love you.

j. Her respect for her husband will lessen — she will resent the fact that he couldn’t provide for them. Should she be moved ahead by her employer, she will wonder why he never gets a promotion. Perhaps she will make more money than he does; she begins to chide him, trouble ahead.

k. Children rebel in reaction to the neglect and lack of love. Again it is no accident that teenage and college age rebellion runs parallel with the increase in working wives over the last thirty years.

Taken from the The Christian Home Manual by Paul L. Freeman

Bad Pay

If you’ve ever made $ 11,000 per year working in a ministry, while supporting a wife, three children, and a dog and then had the senior pastor you work for tell you that taking government assistance wasn’t “trusting God”…you might have been a fundamentalist.

Fundamentalist churches are generally not full of professional, high-income members. Doctors, Lawyers, and other such folks are noticeably absent from the church rolls and their tithes are noticeably absent from the church budget. As a result of this lack of funds, these churches often rely on a workforce of very poorly paid employees to take care of the ministry. Woe unto you if you’ve spent six years in school to get a Masters Degree in Education at an unaccredited fundamentalist college. At the local fundy school (the only place you’re qualified to work) that effort will probably net you church staff housing, no insurance, and less pay than you might get working at the local McDonalds.

To compound this problem, — and for reasons more political than doctrinal — many fundamentalists are deathly opposed to welfare of any kind. The claim is that if the government is helping you then they get the credit instead of God getting the credit. The idea that maybe God uses the government to help folks sometimes has evidently never dawned on them.

This lack of funds combined with an inability to seek help from any other source (not to mention threats that leaving this glorious ministry will ruin God’s will for your life), combines to create a class of indentured servitude with people who are too literally too poor to escape the cycle. Add to this the bellowing of preachers who blast their lackeys for even daring to inquire about how much money a ministry position might pay and you end up with a very sad situation indeed.

It’s all fine and good to be told that slaving away for sub-minimum wages is laying up treasure in heaven. One has to wonder if it’s inconceivable that it might be possible to get both treasure in heaven and a decent dental plan down here on earth in the meantime.

Keepers at Home

Fundamentalists no longer literally keep their women barefoot and pregnant  (or at least not barefoot) but they do tend to want to keep them at home. After all, “keepers at home” is what Paul said, right? Of course, he also gave rules for how a man should treat his slaves, so there may be a wee bit of a cultural gap there. But cultural context is for liberals and feminists, amen?

After all, the Proverbs 31 woman is the perfect example of  a keeper at home. Yeah, she bought and sold goods but that was a…uh…home based business! And all that stuff about her traipsing around buying and selling real estate is…um…well, I’m sure it’s a lot more complicated in the original Hebrew and a fundamentalist pastor can set it all straight if given half a chance.

Turns out there are a lot of women doing all kinds of stuff in the Bible: Deborah, Lydia, Priscilla, Phoebe, Mary, Tryphaena, Typhosa and Persis to name a few. And other than being judges, businesswomen, deaconesses, and apostles, I’m sure none of them would ever have dreamed of putting on shoes and leaving the house.

Submissive Women

woman-symbolWomen have little official voice in fundamentalism. Look at any list of famous fundies and names will exclusively be male. (Those men will also all be white but that’s a topic for another day.) Women serve a few functions within the fundamentalist church including Sunday School teacher, nursery worker, and piano player. If you ever want to see a fundamentalist squirm, ask him if his church has the biblical office of deaconess.

The rules regarding what women can do are many and complex. Not only must married women submit to their husbands but unmarried women may need to submit to their boyfriend, unless the boyfriend is in contention with the woman’s father and then of course the person who makes the final decision is…her male pastor since he is submitted to by everybody anyway.

As with any fundamentalists rule there is a great degree of nuance. For example, women can teach Spanish to men but not Greek or Hebrew to preacher boys. Women missionaries may teach men as long as the men’s skin is at least 3 shades darker than her own. A female fundy may also lead a teen choir in song but not an adult congregation. She can make meals for the church covered dish supper but not serve out the crackers and Welch’s for communion.

If you believe that the only reason Deborah was chosen to be a prophetess was that there weren’t any men available to do the job, you might be a fundamentalist.