A little while ago I was kneeling on the bathroom floor, shampooing Blaire’s hair as she sat in the tub. My four-year-old Chloe came in to supervise and inadvertently pulled the whole shower curtain down on me. The metal rod cracked my head, all the little metal hooks making quite the racket as they scattered about. It was a bit of a surprise. Chloe stood firm beside me, tucked her hair behind her ear, and said, “Well. That happened.”
This seems surprisingly descriptive of the recent blog debacle. In the wake of Bekah’s witty wild post, I felt the need to get in on the shower curtain crashing action. Consider my hair tucked behind my ear.
When I was in college, but still a teenager, I began volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center. It was not affiliated with our church, but it was part of my early childhood memories as my parents had helped start it. It was, I believe, my first real experience of working alongside of Christians who were from many different churches. I was not at all surprised by some of the differences we faced, but a few really stood out to me. One particular instance comes to mind when I was asked to watch a video that was part of the training for the abstinence program.
The woman who was speaking in the video was some kind of professional abstinence speaker to youth groups and Christian schools, and she made a point at the beginning to mention how she left her “Mr. Mom” husband at home with the kids while she engaged in this vital work. At some point she told us all that our teenagers are facing pressure to have sex every day. This was why she traveled about showing them all pictures of STD’s. This was why she was facing the problem head on and talking to the kids about resisting. She also mentioned at this time how she took her junior-high son’s prom date out in advance and told her just what would happen if she laid a hand on her son.
When this video was over, (should I mention that the end could not come soon enough?) the woman who was watching it with me asked me what I thought about it. And I told her. I told her the plain old ugly unvarnished truth. Sex is not the problem. Threatening the children with STD’s will not keep them out of each other’s pants. The deep dark truth is that this is a problem that starts back quite a bit further. I mentioned the fact that I had not ever faced pressure to have sex. Never. Lewd guys on the street are not pressure. Pressure (as they were talking about it) was the result of being a young person in this world. But here I was – a young person who had forged most of my way through adolescence without ever having a zit- faced young boy calling the shots about my body. How did this happen? Was it some skill set of mine? Had I learned the secret technique of getting off the couch in the dimly lit room just in time? Nope. The truth was that the reason for my freedom had a name, and it was Dad.
I don’t mean by this that I had a father who raced about taking young men to coffee to threaten them about staying away from me. I don’t mean by this that I had a crazy overprotective father who wouldn’t let me out of the house, or wouldn’t let me speak to young men. I did not have a father who required me to conduct my life in the constant company of turtlenecks, thick tights, and unflattering shoes. What I did have – and still do– was a sacrificial father. It was his sacrifice that provided us with an education. It was his sacrifice that engaged with the Word in Bible studies with a bunch of junior-high kids. It was his sacrifice that watched pop music videos with us, talking to us about what they were saying, what worldview they were pushing, and helped us work through this kind of thing ourselves. Dad was not on a power trip, and I feel confident saying that I think I would know if he had been.
While there are those who believe that authority is all about power and that submission is all about subservience, they are clearly not people who have experienced either. I always knew that my Dad answered to another authority. I always knew that submission was not inferiority. When my husband came along and we got married, my father gladly gave me away, and I gladly left.
I understand that this whole discussion is a bit like trying to have an oil pastel still-life workshop in a closet with a strobe light and a disco ball running. If you can start a fuss with key words like patriarchy, submission, authority, sex, and misogyny, you can be pretty certain that almost no one will be listening to anything other than their own baggage, their own worries about other people’s perceptions, their own anger, and their own refusal to deal with sin in their lives.
So pardon me if it offends any of you, but I am not worried about misogynists. But the only reason that they do not bother me is that I have never been without the protection of a sacrificial man. I am not worried about them because we are actively engaged in work that makes them ineffective. Back to my original story – we are working on raising daughters who are never pressured with premarital sex. We are working on raising young men who are looking to be protectors and not predators. We are working on repairing the fence that keeps the misogynists out.
A little later in my college life there was a big local dust up that involved many of the same trumped up charges and hot button issues. I was on my way to some event on the University of Idaho campus when I ran into a local lesbian activist wearing a large sandwich board. I don’t remember the full text of her sandwich, but I believe it opened with “Doug Wilson is a Racist!” I said something like, “What’s all this?” and she took off telling me all about him. I asked if she had met him. Nope – but she didn’t need to. She knew! I said I knew him quite well and he wasn’t. She didn’t care. She was yelling. She was getting hotter and hotter about it. “He totally is! He teaches it all day and all night! He is a huge threat to us all!”
And here is the thing. I grew up in his house. I grew up under his teaching. If he is such a tremendous threat with his teachings of male dominance and racism and such forth and so on, wouldn’t you think that the women closest to him would have heard it by now? Either he is an amazingly ineffective teacher, or it isn’t what he is teaching.
The sandwich board encounter didn’t really progress anywhere. It was not long into it that I could tell that this was one hurting woman. This was a woman who was unprotected, unloved, and insecure. She was, in short, suffering from some serious Daddy issues.