Hey all! My latest guest post over at That Crazy Christian Romance is live! Check it out here: 5 Things Christian Women Want Men to Know
Good morning folks!
Today I am over at Hot Holy and Humorous sharing:
What I Wish I Had Been Taught Instead of Purity Culture
“Instead of trying to make false promises and add to Scripture to up to ante to gain compliance, I wish the Powers That be would have spent time teaching us about how sex and marriage actually work.”
A new podcast episode is live! 😍
“In this episode, Rebecca interviews Thomas Umstattd Jr., author of Courtship in Crisis.
They discuss a variety of topics pertaining to courtship including the varying definitions it has, trying to find relationships after having been immersed in the courtship model, the differences between generations and how they view relationships and Christianity, facing criticism for critiquing courtship, and God’s faithfulness.”
You can buy Courtship in Crisis here (highly recommend it!): http://www.thomasumstattd.com/books/courtship-in-crisis/
You can listen to it by going to http://www.audibletrial.com/novelmarketing and selecting it for your free audiobook.
You can find Thomas on Twitter here @ThomasUmstattd.
Or on his website http://www.thomasumstattd.com/
Thomas currently has two podcasts related to content creation which you can find below.
For Novel Marketing: https://www.novelmarketing.com/
For Creative Funding Show: https://creativefunding.show/
Listen in Stitcher or iTunes:
If you like the podcast, feel free to rate and review it!
You can purchase my book, The Scarlet Virgins – When Sex Replaces Salvation here: Get the book!
Some time ago I was approached by the director of A Courtship documentary. Due to extenuating circumstances, I haven’t gotten to review it as a Scarlet Virgins podcast episode as I had originally intended to. I do want to share some things that stood out to me after my own experience and upbringing and general thoughts on the film. This post is adapted from an informal Twitter thread.
First, this courtship was both more and less extreme than the kind I grew up around. For those that don’t know about courtship, there are a wide variety of definitions and meaning behind the word.
Some are benign, others not so much. When I talk about courtship, it isn’t to disparage those who have had successful courtships, but to point out the flaws, biblical and social, that can be present among legalistic versions.
In this documentary, a young woman from a nonreligious family sought out a surrogate father and mother to adopt her, as an adult, in order for them to facilitate teaching her how to court and selecting suitors for her.
In one of the first scenes, I was quite surprised to see in the film that the wardrobe of the young woman was a lot less (shorter shorts for example) than what the communities I grew up in that promoted or allowed. She also participated in dance, when even Christian dance wasn’t permitted in my childhood courtship community.
The surrogate father in the documentary immediately struck me as unhealthy, socially in particular. In one scene he is shown essentially going on dates with young men to test them before the surrogate daughter even knows about these men. He, in my opinion, asks some questions that are unnecessarily inflammatory or intrusive, perhaps in a subconscious effort to sabotage the chances of them having a relationship with the surrogate daughter.
At several points, I noted the father seems to not have a good community filled with men his own age around him. Early on he said,”I get to meet these really cool guys” about these suitors, but it seemed a bit overzealous or creepy to me in some way.
The deal between this young woman and the surrogate parents was that she would live with them until she was married off. I checked with the documentary maker and she is still living with them and unmarried, after over 7 years.
There were may courtship concepts I recognized from my childhood, like waiting for God to drop someone in your lap instead of going out and being active in a community with eligible bachelors.
Some of the surrogate mother’s ideas and behaviors were concerning to me. For example, her biological daughters had made elaborate scrapbooks of their future weddings, which isn’t inherently bad. It does seem odd to me though, as I did not think about getting married at that age nor did I plan my own wedding. The mother says, “Part of being a girl is dreaming about your wedding day” and “it is who we are.” This I think is the most disturbing thing to me. Again, perhaps I have an abnormal experience, or perhaps it is because I know through experience that focusing on singular aspects of identity can be harmful. All I know was it seemed off.
One of the popular books in purity culture, the princess and the kiss, is read out loud in the documentary. The surrogate daughter tears up because she has previously kissed someone before marriage. The parents did as well and deeply regret it. Later on, the surrogate parents fret and stew over “having” to tell a suitor that she has lost her kiss virginity.
She finds a suitor and, I think prematurely asks him to define the relationship and the goals when they are really just getting to know each other.
The young woman says, “It is really hard for a woman to control those emotions – the desire to look pretty and be noticed.” I think the key word there is control. So much of purity culture and courtship is control, in a bad way. I think these things are normal, natural, and God-given. It is good to prune these desires as is appropriate and nurture them when healthy, but not sever or destroy in the name of control.
Another small aside that seemed a big deal to me given my history…When the suitor was allowed over for dinner, she wore makeup! That was never encouraged for young women in my circles because it was tempting and not “natural” beauty. It was a matter of flaunting and pride as much as modesty.
At one point the parents said, “You don’t start something until you are ready to move to marriage.” How do you know if you are ready to move to marriage if you don’t know the person? I highly recommend Courtship in Crisis by Thomas Umstattd for those who grew up in this. We recorded an episode together for The Scarlet Virgins podcast and it is set to release in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out.
The family goes to a house church and the surrogate mom asks a different girl if she is saving her first kiss. I find this inappropriate in a way. It seems a private question that goes against propriety to ask.
“Most unChristian girls talk about their boyfriends right now.” The younger sister says. Seems an uncharitable and biting statement to me, sort of Holier art thou.
“And we are talking about our first kisses which haven’t even been given away yet” – another girl says. They are putting other girls down to elevate themselves morally. Seems the opposite of Christlike behavior and conversation to me.
Here is one of the biggest kickers of the wife’s behavior and attitude:
“It ain’t my fault, it is his” – the wife says as she doesn’t want to be responsible for issues or culpable for decisions. To me, it almost is like she wants her husband to fit a father role and her a child role so she doesn’t have to deal with consequences or act like an adult woman.
The dad gets excited because his biological younger daughter and the younger brother of the suitor are hitting it off. My husband and I both blanched at this as the boy is 18 and the girl is 13 (ie well under the age of consent in our state).
The parents get upset that the suitor, Ross, might want his wife’s first kiss and he can’t have that with Kelly, the young woman. They don’t want them getting attached because of this. The surrogate dad seeks to find out if this is a deal breaker privately with Ross. The surrogate parents are convinced thoroughly that kiss = heart given away. But no kiss means she hasn’t given her heart away.
The biological mother and stepfather get introduced. The mother had a divorce which sent Kelly towards courtship as a safer/more stable option.
Kelly visits her biological family and they try to talk some sense into her, respectfully. They tell her she is sheltering herself. That she is using the surrogate father as an unhealthy go-between. They support her waiting to have sex but don’t understand the courtship aspect.
The foster dad tells her he would be long gone if a girl said he had to talk to the dad before dating as a 30-year-old.
The stepdad says he would love to advocate for her. They want her to move back home. My heart broke during this, her real family clearly cares for her and wants to respect and support her.
The biological mom, who is not religious, profoundly tells Kelly, “God can guide your steps, but you need to be stepping.”
Kelly goes back to the surrogate parents and emails constantly with Ross. The courtship is abruptly broken off via ghosting because of a theological difference regarding what they believed on whether or not God causes or allows pain.
The dad has a strange meeting with Ross where it is clear it is over but the dad is still hanging on and essentially personally asks Ross if they can still be friends.
Both the surrogate mother and father say, “Kelly walked away with a protected heart” because “she didn’t kiss – there was nothing there.” Kelly is obviously crushed and did not walk away unscathed from this. The surrogate parents are oblivious to the fact that courtship can and does cause broken hearts, sometimes in a more complex way than dating.
Kelly found a peace and relationship with God and her identity in Him that she didn’t with her surrogate father or with a suitor, which was the most peaceful part of the film and the one thing I think many people miss. No human being is made to fill our need for companionship and communion of spirit because the space there in us is meant to include God.
Overall, this documentary shows what I would consider to be an abnormal courtship, but people who are and are not familiar with the concept will likely get something out of it and learn from it. It can be found here: https://www.acourtship.com/
The Scarlet Virgins Episode #34 – Interview on Law and Gospel with Eric Brown
In this episode, Rebecca interviews her childhood Pastor from the small town LCMS congregation she attended for 18 years.
The discussion includes: Defining Law and Gospel, the three functions of the Law, balancing Law and Gospel, and answering the questions below.
What is a young person to do in the face of their friend’s promiscuity?
Do you, as a pastor, regret any of your earlier teachings? Have they stayed consisted throughout your ministry?
The book of Revelation being abused (think #raptureanxiety)
What does a congregant do if their church is going down a bad, perhaps legalist, road?
What did you think of the application of Law and Gospel in Rachael Denhollander’s case?
How do you determine how a person needs to hear more Law or Gospel? Is there a process or is it mostly just a feeling and experience? How do you ensure the Gospel predominates, as Walther says it must?
Some words for those who are spiritually homeless (those who do not have a church)
Did you ever notice I was being exposed and slipping into legalism?
Do you have any funny stories of me as a child?
(Featuring what happens when you forget your Latin book in Pastor’s class.)
Articles of Pastor Brown’s to read:
On Tuesday night, word reached me that Recovering Grace withdrew their lawsuit against Bill Gothard and his institution due to “ . . . the unique complexities of this case, including the statutes of limitation.”
For those that may not know Gothard, many young women have come forward with stories of molestation at his hands (stories that are hard to prove because of the kind of sexual assaults they were), made easier by unique grooming and teachings that he promoted. I grew up with some of these teachings, as did many others who did not directly grow up in ATI or ever hear his name. They are spiritually damaging.
This news was, and is, heartbreaking to me. I have met some of these young women and I have personally been healed by Recovering Grace’s ministry. I was, and am, so proud of them for handling things the way they have, pursuing the appropriate channels within the legal system.
While I am on a leave of absence from writing articles and non-fiction, I found that I could not process this news without writing. This article is my response to the news, as well as Rachel Darnall’s.
Please pray for the folks at Recovering Grace, and all who are reeling from this shock.
Read the article here via Iron Ladies
Hi dear readers and listeners,
My most recent podcast interview with Theology Gals is out, you can find it here:
Some things we discussed/questions answered:
How does purity culture follows people into marriage?
The “Eternal, paternal identity crisis”
How can we teach our children to think about sex Biblically?
Why is purity culture so heavily directed only at girls?
Has purity culture had any affect on pornography culture?
Are purity rings a good idea?
“I was taught that you had to give it whenever they wanted it or they’d find it elsewhere. I was taught men are animals and women were for their use. How have these ideas hurt sex in marriages?”
Theology Gals is giving away a copy of my book, The Scarlet Virgins! You can enter to win here!
Is it sinful to celebrate Halloween?
I grew up in a little fundamentalist community, one in which any mention of Halloween was met with a hellfire and brimstone sermon about how trick or treating would send you to hell. It may come as no surprise that my parents forbade my sister and I from telling people that we did, in fact, go trick or treating.
My parents believed that Halloween was a harmless holiday that was purely for fun. It had no spiritual bearing. Because everyone else hyped their concerns up so much, we’d often facetiously say, “Man, I hope I don’t end up a child sacrifice tonight” as we walked out the door in our costume…