I was not in love with
the man I married.
In December 1977
19 years old
doubt and confusion
clog-danced in my brain
the FIXED SMILE
the whole bloody time,
all the photos
It was not a shotgun wedding.
I was not Muslim,
or a Moonie.
This marriage was not “arranged”.
So what was going on?
That’s what I want to talk about.
what was “going on” then
is still “going on” today.
And what “was going on”
is that :-
PRIMES YOUNG WOMEN
Wow that’s a controversial statement.
Many will disagree.
From my own experience
of many other women,
I KNOW IT TO BE TRUE!
Let me tell you how it works.
A – Girls in a fundamentalist Christian home will grow up in a sheltered environment. Their social life will revolve around church. They might attend only Christian school and in the most severe cases – be home-schooled.
B – The world outside of church is considered secular, and all things secular are to be feared.
C – Unbelievers live in this secular world, and they are only to be befriended with the sole purpose of “getting them saved”. To simply be friends with an unbeliever will expose a Christian girl to the dangers of secular ways.
(Or to put it another way – non -Christian friends are a gateway drug!)
D – This sheltered life leads to girls being naïve and uninformed about a lot of life’s realities. It makes them more idealistic and impressionable.
E – Girls are taught that men are the head of the house, men are the spiritual “covering” of women, men are responsible before God for the women in their care. In fact, lets face it girls are taught that men are superior to women.
F – Girls are taught that men are more important to God than women; that he listens to them and speaks through them.
E – Girls are taught that they are not equal to men. They may be smarter or more artistic, more musical, more practical, more lots of things – BUT not more spiritual, and certainly not on an even footing with men in the eyes of God.
F – This being the case, girls are taught to defer to men and to be subject to men. (Now, no matter how much common sense a Christian girl might have, no matter how flawed she may recognise many of the men in her life to be, this common sense will be in conflict with her conditioning – and conditioning always wins.)
G – All fundamentalist Christians are taught to fear being out of God’s will. No matter how much God might love you he REALLY does not like it when you step out of his will and you will incur His wrath.
(Just what His will is cannot be easily defined but it has a lot to do with obeying rules, and for a Christian girl one of the big rules is that men are the ones God’s put in charge and so she must be subject to them.)
H – Dating – (oh don’t get me started!!! Girls are taught all manner of silliness when it comes to dating – far too much silliness for me to go into all of it here.)
These are a few examples:-
1 – You absolutely CANNOT date an unbeliever – it will cause you to lose your faith. (Apparently this is one of those things that most definitely takes you out of God’s will.)
2 – God has already picked out the man you are to marry. All you have to do is wait and listen for His leading to show you who he is.
3 – you can do nothing but hold hands until you are engaged. Anything else will automatically tempt you to have sex.
So here she stands –
THE FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN YOUNG WOMAN !
And here he is –
THE FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN YOUNG MAN
And he fancies her!
If he is a fundamentalist Christian young man who despite his better self will end up being an abuser of women –
WHAT HAPPENS THEN?
Well, here’s my story.
The only men in my social world were chinless, spotty, youth group teenagers, and I definitely did not hear God telling me any of them were my CHOSEN one.
Then along came K.
23 years old, six foot tall, and with a chin.
He was an American airman from the nearby US air force base.
He arrived on 1000cc motorcycle, wore cowboy boots,
and most amazing of all – was a Christian.
I didn’t fancy him, he wasn’t handsome, but he was here, he was different, and in the very small fundamentalist Christian pool I was fishing in he looked like a dolphin.
A couple of his mates from the base also began coming to church, and soon my sister and I were spending time with them on the weekends.
It was exciting.
When K asked me out I said “no”.
When he asked why – I was truthful,
“you’re nice but I don’t fancy you.”
This just made him more determined.
He showered me with gifts, took me out to dinner,
we had fun together alone as well as spending time with the whole gang.
But each time he asked me to be his girlfriend I was honest.
I didn’t want to lead him on.
I was a good Christian girl remember.
Then he began asking me to marry him.
It was absurd, and I told him so.
“No I will not marry you – I don’t love you”
But still, for weeks he persisted.
And each time I said “no”.
BUT ONE DAY
He said to me that God had spoken to him,
told him that we were to get married,
that He had missionary work for us to do together.
Again I told him “no”
How could I marry him when I didn’t love him?
THEN HE SAID SOMETHING THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE FOREVER.
“How can you say NO? You don’t want to be out of God’s will do you?”
All my common sense went out of the window.
My fundamentalist conditioning kicked in.
NO – I DEFINITELY DID NOT WANT TO BE OUT OF GOD’S WILL!!!
That would be terrifying!
Getting married to K didn’t feel like the right thing to do,
but this was a Christian man,
and God had spoken to him.
He must be the man God had chosen for me.
I wrestled with my common sense but eventually
I allowed my better judgement to be subjugated to my conditioning,
and to the fear of God’s wrath.
I said, “yes.”
My parents were thrilled.
He had wooed them too.
How could I share my doubts with them?
God had spoken.
So I married him.
And on the honeymoon night the abusive behaviour,
of which I had seen no previous clues,
3 days later we were in America at his new posting,
and for the next 10 years
I endured his ever escalating abuse.
And, blaming myself, of course,
It has taken me many years , to recognise that my
FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING,
WITH ALL IT’S GOOD INTENTIONS,
PRIMED ME TO BE VULNERABLE
TO SUCH A MAN AS K.
And that my leaving and divorcing
aroused a legacy of guilt that was
disproportionate and unnecessary.
It has taken years of hard work to unlearn this fundamentalist conditioning
and to recognise that God loves me unconditionally,
just the way I am.
But at long last I am free.
Free to use my common sense.
Free to trust my own judgement.
Free to befriend who I like and not try to “save” them.
Free to know that men are not superior to women.
Free to love whoever I choose.
Free to be me.
Does any of this resonate with you ?
Have you had a similar experience?
Did you narrowly escape such a situation?
Or maybe you aware that you are caught up in an abusive marriage with your own version of K?
If you would like to chat in confidence – my email address is email@example.com
You are NOT alone.