Monday, October 15, 2007

EMB: One...Two... Freddy's Coming for You...

Before I get started, I just want to show you a critical review of Every Young Man's Battle done way back in 2005 by Amber Rhea. Here's quick snippet from when Fred & Steve talk to a teenage girl:

I remember the time when a guy I really liked tried some things that made me uncomfortable. I asked him to stop, but he persisted. Finally, he just wore me down and I eventually gave in. He had weakened my defenses.

Okay, this is the kind of shit that seriously upsets me. Cassie, I've got news for you, hon: that wasn't "weaking your defenses," that was rape. And what is most disturbing is that the chapter just continues along, with some stale verbiage about how it's not manly to push your girlfriend's sexual boundaries. They had an opportunity to take a real stand here, and say, "Hey, fuckface, when you 'push your girlfriend's sexual boundaries,' you're committing rape, and you should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. You're a goddamn rapist, you cowardly little shit." But they didn't.

Scary shit, man. Scary shit. Thumbs up for Amber.

Every Man's Battle:
ch2, pg 16-20

Fred tells us he attended a marriage class taught by a Joel Budd.

It wasn't long before I realized that I knew nothing about treating women properly. Perhaps it was because my mom and dad were divorced, and I never saw a loving relationship modeled at home. More likely, however, it was because of my own selfishness and sexual sin. Everything I knew about women came from one-night stands and casual dating relationships.

The criticism of one-night stands I understand. But "casual dating relationships"? What's wrong with dating? I mean that's what Archie does with Betty at Pop Tate's Choklit-shop.

And here's the grabber: Fred Stoeker still doesn't know how to treat women properly. You see, Freddy here is a member of Promise Keepers, and he wrote a book that says... well, let me just let mental health counselor Susan Hall explain in her article "The Theology of Domestic Violence" where she mentions Arterburn & Stoeker's other book: Every Woman's Desire* (aka Every Man's Marriage):

Colluding with the socialization I’ve described above is the general culture of much of Christianity, where men have not only the cultural right but also the mandate to practice sexist power differentials that promote the creation of the docile, submissive, and dependent woman described as “ideal” by clergy. In a survey I did of evangelical self-help literature, I found peppered throughout the texts metaphors, language, and analogies of hierarchy, domination, and subordination. One popular men’s book [Every Woman's Desire] uses a master and bondservant analogy, and, although the authors are asking the man to consider his wife his “master,” it is nonetheless problematic because it normalizes relationships built on power differentials rather than on mutuality. The authors’ analogy breaks down anyway when they later reaffirm that men are the “Chief Tiebreakers” in the family, once again justifying male dominance within the Christian home.

This is far from an isolated case. In their fervor for “male headship,” evangelicals all over the United States are buying books that purport to make men stronger and more spiritual than their wives. The Silver Medallion Award–winning text mentioned above advises men in the way of becoming the spiritual leader of the family, directing men to “develop the deepest knowledge of God’s Word,” “become the best at submitting to Scripture,” “be the most comfortable with worshiping at home,” “be the most consistent in your prayer and devotional life,” and “be the quickest in the family to forgive and ask for forgiveness”9 (emphasis mine). The message is clear: A man is to note his wife’s capabilities and competencies and then outstrip her in every arena if he is to provide leadership in the home.

This model, with its requisite winner and loser, creates an environment in evangelical homes where women are set up for the humiliation of being one-down. Because women are discouraged from outshining their husbands, they often go undercover when they are more knowledgeable or passionate about Scripture or spirituality. And when a man cannot become one-up by his competence or so-called spirituality, he often becomes violent in order to establish his dominance. If a female is not inferior to him, his culture claims that he is an inadequate man and leader.10

Anyhoo, back to the book: Fred tells us that he didn't date that year under Joel's teaching. He then began to suffer from a condition I myself have discovered by observing other single Christians and am hoping to one day get published: Matrimorny.

Matrimorny ("matrimony-horny") is a somewhat common condition among single Evangelical Christian men. You see, Holy Sanctified Christian testicles fill themselves with sperm at roughly the same rate as secular godless heathen testicles; but unlike secular godless heathen testicles, Holy Sanctified Christian testicles are only to be drained within marriage or while unconsciously humping one's mattress in the REM sleep stage. Thus the Evangelical Christian man has just as strong a desire to mate as a heathen does, but does not openly admit this as it would cause him to appear less spiritual in the eyes of his brethren. So when speaking about past instances where he has experienced matrimorny he will not say something along the line of "I needed a girlfriend" or "Boy, did I ever need to get laid", he will say something like:

I prayed this simple prayer: "Lord, I've been in this class for a year and learned a lot about women, but I'm not sure I've ever seen these things in real life. I've never really known any Christian girls. Please show me a woman who embodies these godly characteristics."

I wasn't asking for a date, girlfriend, or spouse. I just wanted to see these teachings in practice, in real life, that I might understand them better.

Which is pretty much what Fred Stoeker says in his book. Well, actually it is what he says in the book.

God did far more than that. One week later, He introduced me to my future wife, Brenda, and we fell in love.

"Brenda, this is Fred. Due to his poor exegesis of Matthew 5:27-28, he can't ejaculate without crying, see if you can help him with that. Fred, this is Brenda. Don't worry, Batman is on his way, and he's bringing the antidote with him."

Fred tell us that Brenda and him decide not to do the nasty before the legal contracty. It's their choice, I can respect that.

She was a virgin--and I wished I were.

There's still the butt, Freddie. Or did...? Nevermind. None of my business anyways...

We did kiss, however, and whoa! Our lip smacking was wonderful! It was my first experience of something I would discover far more deeply: the physically gratifying payoff that comes from obedience to God's sexual standards.

"And that's like twice as good as the kind you get from using an Arab-strap."

In a song made popular during my senior year in college, the singer mourned how it used to feel when a kiss was something special. The lyrics from that song resonated sadly with me because, at that point in my life, a kiss meant nothing to me. It was a joyless prerequisite on the path to intercourse.

Now, too all my fellow men out there, take note. If you're writing a quasi-autobiographical book and yet for some weird reason want to present yourself as The World's Worst Lover, be sure to describe a kiss as being a "joyless prerequisite on the path to intercourse". Oh, and be sure to use phrases like "lip-smacking". Seriously, not even Andy from The 40 Year-Old Virgin spoke like this. "Lip-smacking"? What's next, "a bag of sand"?

Fred tells us he spent his early married life living by the three C's: Church, Clean-living, and Corn (he actually lived next to a corn-field, which does somewhat explain the creepiness).

If you want the details on their early relationship, I recommend you read the beginning of Every Man's Marriage (which you can read for free here). Long story short: They met when Fred's step-mom set up him and Brenda on a blind-date (or "blind-courting", whatever it was). Shortly after meeting Brenda in Church, he heard a voice in his head tell him that he will marry her (and actually tells her about it later that day). He marries her seven months after meeting her and is surprised that his marriage has a freaking buttload of problems (which I believe bears a striking similarity to the plot of the latest Farrelly brothers movie). He even lost his temper on their wedding night (perhaps another bad case of "divine intervention", I hear they have pills for that now). Ah Fred, you're a walking Romantic comedy.

Then this pops out at me:

By worldly standards, I was doing great. Just one little problem. By God's standard of sexual purity, I wasn't even close to living his vision for marriage. Clearly I'd taken steps towards purity, but I was learning that God's standards were higher than I'd ever imagined and that my Father had higher hopes for me than I had dreamed.
(Emphasis mine)

I've heard something like this before, but where? Oh well, the important thing is that he grabs on tight to his newfound purity, or Jesus is going to write him a letter detailing his every mistake.

Fred, the good Christian that he is, once again pisses his tears of pompous self-loathing over Christ's sacrifice as he did in chapter one.

People around me disagreed, saying "Oh, come on! Nobody can control their eyes and mind, for heaven's sakes! God loves you! It must be something else." But I knew differently.

My prayer life was feeble. Once my son was sick and had to be rushed to the emergency room. Did I rush into prayer? No, I could only rush others to pray for me... I had no faith in my own prayers because of my sin.

My faith was weak in other ways as well. As a full-commission salesperson, if I lost a number of deals to the competition, I could never be sure if those setbacks weren't somehow caused by my sin. I had no peace.

I was paying a price for my sin.

I don't really know about the prayer, but the sales? This guy suffers from erectile dysfunction, it's divine intervention ("That's never happened to me before, I'm so virile"); he loses a sale at work, it's divine intervention ("It's not like I lost the sale"). He acts as if his "sexual immorality" is his only flaw/weakness.

My marriage was suffering as well. Because of my sin, I couldn't commit 100 percent to Brenda out of fear that she might dump me later. That cost Brenda in closeness. But that's not all. Brenda told me she was experiencing dreams in which she was being chased by Satan. Was my immorality causing spiritual protection to be taken away from her?

My Wife was paying a price.

Wait wait wait! Brenda is the "pure" one right? The one who doesn't struggle with "impurity"? Why is she being punished by God allowing her to experience these horrible late night pizza-induced demonic attacks? How exactly does Fred provide "spiritual protection" for his household? Why does Brenda even think he needs him in this way? Is Fred's penis shaped like a cross? does he have a Cruci-dick?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's anything in the Bible about the husband's "purity" protecting his Christian wife from demons.

"Fred, this is God again. There's something I forgot to tell you about Brenda. Her favorite movie is Nightmare on Elm Street, which she believes is a docu-drama."

Another interesting thing is that in Preparing Your Son (pg 177) he writes about "the laws of sowing and reaping" (actions and consequences):

Sometimes we think our poor crop is a direct punishment from God. But God isn't looking for a chance to nail us. When we sin sexually, God doesn't jump from his throne in a rage and bellow, "Okay, now you've done it! I'm going to give you an addiction you'll never squirm out of!"

No, in most cases He doesn't do anything to punish us at all... When problems crop up for us, they usually grew naturally from our own choices.
(emphasis mine)

Wow, Fred kinda pulled a 360 there, eh.

Some more blah blah blah-ing on how his church was suffering because he couldn't serve in it because of his sexual sin. blah blah blah ad inserts blah blah blah female joggers...

Every week I'd vow to to avoid watching R-rated "sexy" movies when I traveled, but every week I'd fail, sweating out tough battles and always losing.

"And in these movies they would say things like 'I'm going to have lots of sexy sex with you.' and she says 'Me so horny, me love you long time!' and then he's nailing her and she's like 'Augh! You're nailing me. Cool.'"

What's even funnier is what qualifies as a "sexy" movie in Fred's eyes. More on that next time. ;)

*I myself have not yet read the tranny of the "Every Man" series, but if what Susan Hall saying about the book is accurate, it causes me to scratch my head. Fred, at least when writing this book, seems to believe that women are immune to porn and sex addictions and don't "struggle" with "impurity" as men do. So he, in this way, could be acknowledging his wife's superiority in this regard. But then again, later in the book we hear quite a bit of bitching from Fred&Co. about wives who selfishly decide to deprive their husbands of gratification for the silliest reasons, like headaches, morning-sickness, and being too busy with a career outside the home.


Anonymous said...

Cynic Sage,
Like you, I am also cynical about Evangelical guilt culture. However, you say that Fred has bad exegesis of Matthew 5:27-28, implying that you have exegesis that is better than his. So, how do you interpret that verse and how is it different from Fred's interpretation? Not trying to be mean, just curious.

The Cynic Sage said...

No offense taken.

According to Countryman, the greek word translated as "lust" is used in the Septuagint's translation of the tenth commandment. ("thou shalt not covet") so what Christ is most likely saying here (IMO) is that the sin of adultery lies "in the intention, accomplished or not, to take what belongs to another." (Dirt, Greed, and Sex pg 177-178)

The passage is more a condemnation of the greed of a man pursuing a woman that isn't his to do so (remember that women were considered property back then) than a the stirrings in the groin of a 14 year-old boy that needs to rub one out before he can go to sleep.

Note: Countryman also presents the case for the "all sexual feeling = adultery" position, but I find the case for "lust = covetousness" to be a lot stronger.

sunflash said...

So, your response leaves me with a question. Do you then believe that adultery is actually possible? I mean, now, it today's day when women aren't property anymore, can one "pursue a woman that isn't his to do so"?

like anonymous before me, I ask out of curiousity.

The Cynic Sage said...

Sorry for being away for so long.

"So, your response leaves me with a question. Do you then believe that adultery is actually possible? I mean, now, it today's day when women aren't property anymore, can one "pursue a woman that isn't his to do so"?"

According to Countryman, in our society today a woman is her own property as opposed to the world of the Bible where a woman was the property of the family and access to her had to be through the agency of the father (marriage). Knowing this, this is how I see it:

Property (especially sexual property) is part of one's personhood. Tho violate one's property is to violate one's personhood. A married couple have made an oath; the have promised to give themselves to each other and remain faithful. Adultery is a sin because it selfishly treats a someone's personhood (the person being cheated on) as being inconsequential. Long story short: Impurity does not lie in the penis, it lies in the heart.

Man, it's late. I hope I didn't mess up anything while typing this.

The Cynic Sage said...

Dang. At the end I meant to type "Adultery is still a sin because someone's personhood is still being violated. Impurity does not lie in the penis, it lies in the heart." But I had already hit "post".