The Dangers of Ideology: Salome’s Story, Part Two

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Salome” is a pseudonym. Also by Salome on HA: Home for the Holidays.

< Part One

Part Two

The closest I came to real danger (and the longest relationship I had) was with the misogynistic control freak (the knife-bearing sociopath frequently did so in a crowded room, and was disarmed before he became a threat), so I wanna talk further about him. Let’s call him James.

James was everything I’m not.

He was intensely emotional, tall, slender, metrosexual, and spent more time in front of a mirror than I do. At first, everything was great. He understood me to a degree that very, very few people ever do, and accepted me for who I was. We had long conversations, joked, and played pranks together. He was extremely observant, and would go out of his way to understand what I was thinking. He quickly adjusted to my tendency to be brutally honest, and we talked about literally everything. I enjoyed our conversations, and I basked in the feeling that I mattered to someone.

I’m not entirely sure when the first warning signs started appearing. They were almost imperceptible at first, and I had no one who was close enough to the situation to point them out to me. We were lying to each other (and everyone else) about our intentions. He told me he wasn’t attracted to me, and didn’t want a relationship. I certainly didn’t want to call him my boyfriend, because then I’d have to deal with all of the baggage my upbringing attached to that label. I think I might have loved him to some degree, at least at first. I never really was physically attracted to him, but I figured I probably couldn’t do better than thoughtful, suave, and funny James.

It took me a really long time after we broke up to admit that we were dating. We just called it hanging out.

Our hanging out included sneaking out for an entire Saturday to see Act of Valor when it first came out. Today, I can’t believe I didn’t see that that was a date. Then I was too blind and too young and too repressed – and I didn’t have my mom to counterbalance my blindness. It’s really hard not to feel cheated, you know? Anyway, on top of our lies, he started making misogynistic comments. He always found a way to exclude me from his “all women are untrustworthy bitches” attitude, but I eventually started noticing that he was on dangerous ground. When I pressed him, his underlying attitudes didn’t exclude me at all. Then, he started timing how long it usually took me to reply to his messages (around 5 minutes), and if I took any longer than that, he’d freak the hell out, spam me with messages, text me, and call me, and say he was gonna come over to check on me.

He tried telling me what music to listen to (and what to avoid), and what TV shows to watch, and started regulating my caffeine intake and even my bedtime. I eventually started lying to him and telling him that I was going to bed early every night, but then staying up till the wee hours of the morning to try to get my work done free of him. Over Spring break that year, I traveled to Europe without him for a couple of weeks, and when I got back, he demanded to know every detail of every day. He then told me that he literally had not slept for 2 weeks because he didn’t know I was safe.

I hadn’t realized that I felt stifled until I was on another continent, and all the sudden James’ messages felt sinister.

My grades had plummeted (because he demanded that I spend all my time with him rather than do my work), I was intensely depressed, intensely exhausted because of my sleep habits, and intensely stressed, because I couldn’t bear the thought of being controlled by James the way my father had controlled me – and in the name of protecting me! The few classes I didn’t have with James became my solace during the week, because I had a few hours free of him.

My professors even started noticing that something was wrong, and several started going to extreme lengths to give me grace. They tried to help me, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit how bad it was. It wasn’t until very recently that I found out that the attempt to control a significant other is a hallmark of abusers. My patriarchalism-steeped parents certainly never taught me that, because then they would have had to allow me some autonomy. Soon after the Spring break debacle, I completely cut off contact with James, and have not missed him at all (even though we live in the same area still).

Let me be clear: I wasn’t in a toxic relationship because I was homeschooled.

Controlling jackasses exist everywhere. That was my screw-up, and I’ll have to live with that bad decision. But the ideologies that were preached at me from every direction left me without a security net, and kept me in that relationship longer than was healthy (because a controlling, arrogant, narcissistic, misogynistic man raised me. That’s my norm.).

Ideology led me to be dishonest about the nature of my relationship with James, which complicated the situation even further, and probably only exacerbated his urge to control me, because he had no assurance that we were exclusive (and I, being a total jackass, went to a dance with another guy to prove to my friends that James and I weren’t dating… my naivete still astounds me.).

Ideology set the stakes high, because I was not supposed to be in a relationship without the intention of eventually marrying the guy (which almost certainly would have been disastrous with James).

Ideology left me without any clue which boundaries were healthy, what was a normal expression of affection, and what was a big, flaming red flag.

Ideology left James feeling like I needed to be protected and guided, and left me feeling like that was normal.

Ideology led my parents to exercise parenting techniques which left me vulnerable, broken, and with the deeply internalized belief that I’m worthless and unclean, and no one will ever want me. It’s really hard not to feel victimized, bitter, and angry, to be honest. I missed out on – no, I was cheated out of – a beautiful and normal part of growing up.

I’m so pissed about that.

End of series.

The Dangers of Ideology: Salome’s Story, Part One

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Salome” is a pseudonym. Also by Salome on HA: Home for the Holidays.

Part One

My family, my church, and my homeschooling group were up to their eyeballs in purity culture.

My youth pastor used to say that if he could tell you were dating, you were doing it wrong. That meant no holding hands, no hugging, and no kissing. He’s since relaxed a lot, but the damage was done. Later, we realized just how badly our purity culture had screwed us over when a significant contingent of my grade (most of whom were also members of my homeschooling group where the courtship model was also wholeheartedly embraced) got pregnant out of wedlock, and most abandoned Christianity because of the judgment and the pronouncement that they were now unclean. Some were subjected to epic parental freak-outs, which did nothing but deprive their parents of a meaningful relationship with their child and grandchild.

Most of my friends were homeschooled — well, the few that I had; I have always been extremely introverted, and due to the level of emotional abuse I suffered, I have always been angry, blunt, and kept everyone at arm’s length. Such friends belonged to the same homeschooling group I did. Our parents were all close, and all shared books.

This, unfortunately, included Eric and Leslie Ludy and Josh Harris.

(Interesting side note, here. Years later, I got to know the Harris twins. One of them, I believe it was Brett, informed me that when Josh fell in love, he found out his advice sucked. He ended up ignoring it himself, and didn’t ask his wife’s father for permission before he married her, because his wife didn’t have a good relationship with her father.)

My mother and her friends, however, took it as the gospel truth. My mom regularly told me that she wished she hadn’t had her heart broken by any of her pre-Dad relationships. She admitted that she still occasionally thought of her other boyfriends. Now, years later, I think that she was just unfulfilled and bored as well as supremely unhappy, because I was her confidante multiple times when her marriage was on the rocks (when I was wayyyyyy too young to healthily process any of what she told me). Then, my innocent little mind filed away all of that information, trusting that my mom knew best.

My parents also stigmatized normal relationships.

I don’t think they purposely created an environment where it was unsafe to bring someone home, because they’re pressuring me to settle down, find a guy, and give them grandkids. They were partially victims of their own assumptions – that Dad was somehow gifted with more wisdom than normal (which is bullshit. He’s a fool.), that he had the right to exercise absolute control over us, that his job was to protect me from myself and all of the depredations of lustful young men (even though when I was victimized he attacked me instead of protecting me, and ended up “protecting” me from people I didn’t need to be protected from, while ignoring the real threats), that I had to “guard my heart (a phrase I internalized too well, because I can’t fall in love for the life of me.),” and that anything less than their ideals of modesty, purity, and emotional distance was too “worldly,” which is a criticism my father leverages against literally everything he disagrees with… I still wince whenever I hear it, whether it’s warranted or not.

Thanks a lot, Dad.

They’re also ridiculously awkward and almost Victorian about romance and sex, and they deal with that by joking about it. It’s impossible to have a serious conversation about it. I literally have never brought, and never plan to bring, a guy home with me, because I’m just not sure if my family will chase him away at gunpoint, will be terribly awkward, or will accept him with open arms. And the worst part? They don’t know any of that, and aren’t open to being told, because they hear every criticism of their parenting skills as a judgment of them personally.

My parents also tried (and failed) to enforce rigid gender roles for awhile. 

Since I have never been the most feminine woman ever, my parents lectured me more about that than basically anything else. I wear whatever the hell I want, don’t cook unless I have to (and have cussed my father out when he tries telling me to make him dinner), and swear like a sailor. I’ve never been meek and submissive. I’ve never accepted my mother’s demands to show respect to men (which means meekly assenting to whatever they ask me to do and never standing up for myself – which would have been disastrous in my relationship with James.). However, I’ve still internalized those lectures. I still feel like my body is dirty, and my modesty somehow a coat of armor.

I still feel guilty for loving more traditionally masculine things.

Instead of protecting me, the environment I have described led my sister and I to go behind our parents’ backs and seek emotional fulfillment without calling it dating, while taking away the support structures which could identify warning signs early and save us from dangerous situations. In my sister’s case, it ended with a call to the cops, because she was involved with a bad apple.

My experiences are a little more complex. I have consistently attracted psychopaths in every sense of the word (including one knife-bearing sociopath, a drug addict, a patriarchal scumbag, and a raging misogynistic control freak… and those are just the ones I ended up having a close relationship with – with the exception of the drug addict. He was scared away fairly quickly. There are a few more who made unwanted sexual advances, including one who then threatened to kill me when I turned him down. My parents still don’t know.). I swear, they can smell blood in the water, because good God they swarm around me. This tendency is only made worse by the fact that I tend to be emotionally and mentally attracted to someone before I’m physically attracted, and thus tend to want to heal broken men.

Maybe that’s because feeling compassion is the closest thing I feel to tenderness anymore. I don’t know.

Part Two >

An Average Homeschooler: Part Seven, Graduate School

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Samantha Field’s blog, Defeating the Dragons. Part Seven of this series was originally published on December 16, 2013. Also by Samantha on HA: “We Had To Be So Much More Amazing”“The Supposed Myth of Teenaged Adolescence”“(Not) An Open Letter To The Pearls”,  “The Bikini and the Chocolate Cake”, and “Courting a Stranger.”

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Also in this series: Part One, Introduction | Part Two, The Beginning | Part Three, Middle School | Part Four, Junior High | Part Five, High School Textbooks | Part Six, College | Part Seven: Graduate School

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I’ve talked a bit before about some of my experiences at Liberty. Overall, because I was in the MA English program, my experience there was a good step forward for me. I wasn’t living on campus so I didn’t have to do things like shell out ten bucks for falling asleep in chapel and I could ignore controversies like “what do you mean we can break the rules on just Valentine’s Day?!” (something about being able to hug people for longer than 3 seconds? Kiss? I don’t really remember).

I was also encouraged to do things like practice deconstructionism on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and I did a post-structuralist analysis of Edgar Allan Poe’s Eureka. Academically, the program was rigorous and challenging. I can’t speak for anything else about Liberty, but the MA English program was good for me. Actually being able to take a class called “Advanced Literary Criticism” when my only exposure to literary theory was that it was entirely philosophically bankrupt was amazing. Sitting in on an undergrad grammar class where the professor talked about grammar in a global context and saw English as one language among many instead of it being presented as subtly better (it’s the language of Shakespeare! Milton! The Bible!) was incredible.

Being at Liberty forced me to grow in a lot of ways.

One of the more dramatic ways was actually existing in a semi-pluralistic environment for the first time in my life. I was in class discussions with Catholics, Protestants of all stripes, an agnostic theist, an intense Neo-Reformer, socialists, feminists, conservatives … of course, we were still at a Christian university so it wasn’t as diverse as it could have been, but it was still way more diverse than anything I’d heretofore experienced.

And it was hard.

I can’t really explain how hard it was. During my first semester, many of the encounters I had with my new peers were downright humiliating. Thinking about those incidents still makes me physically ill. Some of the things I did earned me a huge amount of animosity from a lot of the people I had to work with. I created problems for myself with some of these relationships that lasted for the entire time I was there. Even my boss noticed and commented on it– although she phrased it “I’ve noticed you’ve had problems making friends.” That was also during the conversation where I came within an inch of getting fired because of the difficulties I had adapting to a place that assumed being a gigantic ass isn’t ok.

I was still at a pretty conservative Christian college, but all of a sudden I was drowning after being thrown into the deep end of the pool, and it was time to sink or swim. My first year in graduate school was probably one of the hardest times in my life– and that includes that whole time I was in an abusive relationship.

I’m not exaggerating: adjusting to being at Liberty University, one of the most conservative places in America, was so difficult for me– emotionally, psychologically– that I can only really describe it in terms of trauma.

I have the same trigger-type reactions to thinking about some of my experiences during my first year there that I do when I run into something that reminds me of my abuser.

Part of that is undoubtedly my experience growing up in a fundamentalist cult. I have no problems placing most the blame for these problems on growing up holding a mentality where I was right and everyone who doesn’t exactly agree with everything I believe is going to hell. Thinking things like that are going to cause problems for you when you actually meet someone who disagrees with you.

However, many of the problems that I had at Liberty can be directly attributed to the fact that I was a conservative homeschooler. Three of my professors pointed this out to me, actually– usually in conversations centered on what it means to be a college student and what is appropriate and expected. I was so oblivious to many of the problems I was giving my professors that they had to pull a 23-year-old adult into their office for a chat.

Many of the skills that seem to come naturally to many (not all) of my publicly-educated peers were so far outside of my grasp I didn’t even understand these skills existed.Things like work/life balance, how to prioritize work, how to do an appropriate amount of work … I also had to have conversations with several professors where they taught me some of these things– some had to be quite blunt and warn me that I was going to kill myself if I kept going how I had been.

I spent hours upon hours in my professor’s offices over those two years because I had to play catch-up all the time.

My literary theory professor was incredibly gracious and met with me as much as I needed because he lovingly understood where I was coming from and that I needed that time and attention. My education professor responded to a ridiculous number of e-mails asking him for help for two years because I didn’t understand what it was like to be a student. My post-modernism professor was extraordinarily patient with me because it took me months to wrap my head around what post-modernism was (thank you, A Beka and Bob Jones, for nothing). People who weren’t ever my professors gave me permission to attend their classes because I didn’t have any concept of basic things like grammar.

Eventually I did figure some things out. I consider my grad school experience a success- mostly. I still cringe at the lot of stupid and idiotic things I did and said while I was there. I still flinch at some of the memories. I still hurt because of some of the things that happened. I wish I didn’t have to struggle so mightily in every class, that I wasn’t handicapped by my borderline pathetic education (although, by grad school that was just as much my college experience as it was homeschooling).

Talking about these experiences is complicated, because not everything, obviously, can be chalked up to “welp, I was homeschooled”– and that hasn’t been the argument I’ve been trying to make. However, being homeschooled the way I was (and the way that many children still are) gave me certain weaknesses that I’ve tried to expose here, by telling my story. Like all stories, mine is messy, and nuanced, and there isn’t any one thing to point fingers at. However, homeschooling was a part of my experience. It is one of the reasons why adulthood is still a struggle for me.

My conservative religious homeschooling experience was not entirely awful, and hopefully that’s been apparent all through this series.

But, if homeschooling hadn’t been a part of my fundamentalist experience, I can’t imagine how different my life would have been. If I’d had friends who were different than me. If I’d read great books written by women. If I’d had teachers who could have encouraged and developed my passion for science. If I’d heard of ideas from the people that believed in them instead of just the straw man versions.

I can’t help thinking it would have been better.

To be continued.

(Not) An Open Letter To The Pearls: Samantha Field’s Thoughts

Samantha Field blogs at Defeating the Dragons, and she was recently featured in a Christianity Today story entitled, “Finding Faith After Spiritual Indoctrination.” This piece was originally published on her own blog, and is reprinted with her permission. Also by Samantha on HA: “We Had To Be So Much More Amazing” and “The Supposed Myth of Teenaged Adolescence.”

So, a friend of mine sent me this post by Michael and Debi Pearl the other day. I encourage you to go read it, just so that you have some context for the following rant and can follow along. There’s a bunch of stuff that’s wrong with this article, and I’m just going to unload both barrels here. Also, in case I get something wrong, because that is totally possible. I’m ranting, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want clarity or cogency or accuracy. If you think that I’ve blown something out of proportion, and you would like to point out a subtlety or nuance, feel free. Or, you can get up here on my soapbox and rant with me. That’s cool, too.

Every family emits its own light. After viewing a family for just five seconds, I know so much about them. After being introduced to each member of the family, they are an open book.

This is from Michael, and all I have to say is No. Just — no. Five seconds? Really? Everyone is just an open book to you? I shouldn’t be shocked anymore at the unbelievable arrogance and condescension Michael Pearl emits, but somehow, every time, it’s like someone slapped me in the face with a fish. Yes, some people are perceptive, and are capable of accurate first impressions– but this claim goes right along with Micheal’s exalted view of himself as a self-proclaimed “prophet.”

The man was about fifty, certainly not a looker.

Now we’re in one of Debi’s sections, and all this does is remind me of Debi’s rather extensive story about the “one ugly hillbilly” woman in Created to be his Help Meet. This observation has absolutely no bearing on the story she’s about to relate — except as possibly to judge the “Old Dude” (what a demeaning way to refer to someone) for not conforming to her physical standards, and to judge the young woman who appears later for having an emotional connection with someone who isn’t a “looker.” There’s no logical explanation for this — it’s just more of Debi’s self-righteous judgment spilling out of her. Both Michael and Debi have demonstrated, throughout the sum total of their careers, an astonishing lack of compassion and simple human empathy.

Right here, at our church, among all these righteous families! I stood amazed at the audacity of the human race.

In other words, how dare people with actual real-life problems dare show themselves in our church! How dare someone who doesn’t conform to our little universe of perfection! How dare you come in here, and violate our incomprehensibly narrow view of the world!

I tried to ask the girl questions to ascertain the cause of this odd arrangement, but he answered as if the questions were directed to him, and the young lady deferred to him as if he were her voice of conscience. I thought that unless her father had truly been abusive, she should return to her family, but I was making no progress engaging her to consider her options.

Back to Michael. This is where I agree with him — this interaction shows that something about their relationship is off. The married man (I refuse to refer to him as “Old Dude”) is forbidding this young woman to even speak, and that seems to be something that is the standard for them. Either because of the married man in this situation, or because of her abusive home, she’s been silenced. She’s literally voiceless here. But this is the only time anyone even mentions this. It stands out to them as a little odd, but not that odd. Because women are expected to let men “lead.” If you’re going to be a “good Christian woman,” silence is expressly demanded by people like the Pearls. So it’s only a little weird, instead of the gigantic flaming red flag it should have been.

And this is one of the places where Michael builds on a long-standing understanding in these types of circles, and you can see it in the words “truly abusive.” This is so incredibly loaded. Because, to Michael, who endorses extreme physical punishment that borders on the sociopathic, “true abuse” would have to be on the level of breaking bones before he was convinced. Emotional and psychological trauma– don’t even exist. Because the ramifications of emotional abuse are just “bitterness” and “un-forgiveness” to the Pearls. Michael would voluntarily send an adult woman back into an abusive situation in order for her to be “under her father’s protection” than ever admit that a “Christian father” is capable of abusing his children. Psychological trauma– just spiritual and heart issues. And her “options”? This girl doesn’t have options. She’s not even allowed to speak for herself– which could indicate that she’s being manipulated into believing she doesn’t have options. When a woman can’t even talk how can she make an actual decision?

At this point in the story, Debi has burst in with an unexplained prophecy, declaring that she’d heard from God, and was speaking with his authority. She gives no context, and disappears as quickly as she came. Then, she sits down the woman for a talk. She does seem to give the married couple and the abused woman some benefit of the doubt– at first.

Undoubtedly his relationship with his wife was already barren before the girl came along, but the old wife had now become the second woman.

What the. Crap on a cracker. Debi– seriously?! You hear this from God, too? A voice come booming out of heaven to tell you that their marriage was “undoubtedly barren”? Which, if you’ve read Debi’s book is without exception always the woman’s fault. If this married man is developing a emotionally intimate connection, it’s obviously because his wife doesn’t smile enough, or doesn’t know how to put her makeup on. Clearly.

I had to try to help Little Miss see the error of her ways.

To most young brides the husband appears clumsy and unfeeling. But as the wife continues to obey and reverence her young husband, he will grow in appreciation for her soul, and in time learn to care for her emotional and spiritual needs.

I explained to Little Miss that having even a small part of this “mysterious relationship” with another woman’s husband, especially in her own home, in front of her, is exceedingly cruel and evil.

Already touching her spirit, I knew what the answer would be, but I wanted the girl to understand she was indeed not innocent.

If there was ever going to be any change to this situation then she had to understand the full ugliness of her actions, so I drove homehow depraved and self-centered she was to do such a thing as to interfere with the sacredness of marriage.

Being cloistered might have been bad for her, but now she was partyto damaging the sacred.

Girlie, it will come to you soon enough, and you will need a place to flee.Don’t come here. The invitation for a place to stay is closed. I would not trust a ‘regret’ girl around this ministry.”

This should speak for itself.

Debi doesn’t care about the abuse this woman has experienced. It doesn’t even matter– it only enters as a “but” statement. The fact that the married man in this situation talks about being “highly skilled in the art of caressing souls” straight to Micheal’s face doesn’t matter. They’re not even capable of picking up on the GIGANTIC BILLBOARD-SIZED RED FLAGS that should tell them that the man in this situation is taking advantage of a tender, fragile, desperate and abused young woman.

Because it’s the wife’s fault for not reverencing her husband, or not fulfilling him, or not having sex with him enough, or not keeping herself pretty enough. And then it’s the abused woman’s fault. Her fragility, the fact that this married man deliberately chose a woman sheltered enough to not understand exactly how he was going to “caress her soul.” He’s vulnerable because of his wife, and the abused woman is preying on his vulnerability. No, he’s not emotionally manipulative, or taking advantage of this situation at all. It’s all the woman’s fault, because being abused by her parents and then manipulated by another man (which she’s probably been taught since infancy is a legitimate authority over her, simply because he’s a man) doesn’t make a lick of difference.

And then comes the hammer. Debi tells her that she will absolutely not help an abused woman when this woman eventually realizes that she traded the frying pan for the fire. Because she’s responsible for the married man manipulating her. She’s cruel, evil, depraved, and self-centered. She’s not hurting, she’s not lost, she’s not desperate for someone to realize that she’s a person, and that she needs help.

Michael and Debi Pearl– YOU are cruel, evil, depraved, and self-centered. You’ve been blinded by the power you’ve wrested from innocent people by being false prophets. You are completely and desperately lacking of any form of common sense or sound judgment.

The article goes on (with Michael inserting an insignificant caveat about how holy and righteous he was, and how men should stay away from women, because, well, women will seduce them away from God), but the story is over. They switch into analysis mode, and I just . . . can’t.

If you are a young woman in a cloistered situation, beware of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Staying in the frying pan is much to be preferred, for you can always jump when a clean alternative shows itself.

Samantha hits her head on her desk repeatedly at the sheer idiocy and ignorance.

Do they never even stop and listen to themselves? Are they so blind to reality that they’re incapable of understanding how ridiculous a statement like this is? When you’ve grown up in a “cloistered” home– by their definition, a family so sheltered they can’t tell “right from wrong,” how the hell do you think an infantalized woman (or man, for that matter) is capable of being aware of the difference between “clean” and supposedly “unclean” alternatives? They’ve been purposely and deliberately shielded from having that kind of power.

Micheal and Debi Pearl are dangerous.

People listen to them, people respect them, people make excuses for them when their teachings are responsible for the slaughter of innocent children. Their loyal followers say that reactions like mine are exaggerated, that I’m just not giving the benefit of the doubt. If I’d really read all of their books, if I’d actually paid attention to what they advocate, I’d be fine with them. I’m just not understanding their true message, which is obviously of love and directly from God.

No.

have read their books– I’ve read every single last one of their books multiple times. I idolized them as a child. They were just so brazenly honest, so overwhelmingly clear– how could Michael be anything but a prophet sent from God to teach the fundamentalists how to raise their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

But as I got older, I started realizing, with a mounting horror, just how clearly evil their teachings are. What they advocate fosters and nurtures abusive homes. They explicitly encourage women to stay with physically abusive husbands and utterly dismiss the existence of marital rape and don’t even acknowledge that men emotionally and verbally abuse their wives.

Debi repeatedly tells women that if their husbands are abusing them, it’s clearly their fault. They’re just not reverencing their husbands enough. Reverence your husband, and he won’t yell. Reverence your husband, and he won’t beat you. Reverence your husband, and ignore the fact that he’s raping you when you don’t want to have sex– because you’re not even allowed to say no. If you say no, he’ll just go sleep with someone else.

And Michael– spank your child until he obeys. Spank your child with an ever-increasing-in-size pipe until he instantaneously submits to your every uttered command. Spank your children until they are cowed. Spank your children until they would never even think of disobeying you. Because that’s what’s going to teach them about how to obey God.

The only language the Pearls are capable of speaking is a language of violence and abuse.