Suspending Reality

You can have my acquiescence to your personal pronoun since it is a harmless act of politeness, but you cannot manipulate me into suspending my understanding of objective reality to the point of making biological sex distinctions erased.

I will call you Sue when you started off Mike but you cannot make me believe that there is no such thing as female and male. That the physical expression of our gender means nothing, that our sex is merely a mind game with no reflection in objective reality. For anyone, anywhere.

I respect your humanity and your preference to be referred to as you wish. But you should not and cannot make me believe there is no such thing as maleness and femaleness. Or that the distinctions are not true, real, valuable and beautiful.

The Right to Define Marriage

From a few years  ago.

Messages from the Mythical

Who has the right to define marriage?

This is the real question that our society is struggling with now, not who gets to be married, or even what marriage is.

Don’t we need to ask who created marriage? Is it a human construct or a divine one? To those of us who believe that God invented marriage, the question is easily answered.

God has all right to define marriage because He is the author of it;  marriage was created to carry out His purpose; marriage was designed by Him for our benefit but ultimately for His glory.

He has complete and total right to all glory and honor. And He has the perfect right to be the object of the glory and purpose of the thing we call marriage, and of our own marriages.

When we debate, agitate, and activate over who has the right to be married, our struggle…

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I Stand With

Tired of virtue signaling declarations that you stand with all LGBT, disabled, and POC.

Nice of you, but does that mean you don’t stand with some other kinds of people? That you have contempt for… anyone else?

It seems yes.

I stand with you because you’re a human being. And all people are immeasurably valuable. I’m a human being too, and my God tells me to look on others as better than myself. He expects humility and love toward all others. He created us all and he loves us all. Because we are made in his image, out of respect for him, I am commanded to respect and value you.

So I stand with everybody, because every one is a person, like me.

I think my signal trumps yours, but I’ll keep it to myself.

Marriage is Equality

God designed marriage. Equality is in its essence.

My argument is as follows.

At marriage’s core is intimacy. If God-designed marriage’s nucleus is the one-flesh relationship, then God designed marriage to be a relationship of equals. Here is the proof-text:

 …Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband.

In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I Cor 7: 2-5:

Here we see total equality. Both people are equally accountable to render to the other (nothing less than) his/her body, and it is to be done freely and consensually. Both benefit equally. But even that doesn’t say enough. What we give freely and eagerly is the whole self, body, mind, and spirit. (If we’re doing it right.)

And please notice: here the roles are exactly the same. 

What else do we see?  Suggestions of ownership. Like this:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;

for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.

If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love,

it would be utterly scorned.  

Song of Solomon 8: 6-7

Yes please, that kind of ownership. I am claimed and marked. Your seal on my heart means my heart is yours, and only you may break that seal to enter. Your seal on my arm is a sign to the world that I belong to you.

This ownership is irrevocable. This love is absolute. This love is not measured in quantity, as in how much do you love? Do you love enough? This love either is or is not. It is as absolute as death and the grave, as inevitable, as unyielding, as eternal.

In the Corinthians passage above we see words like authority and duty. But the authority is mutual; don’t we owe one another something real in such a relationship?

What does our culture’s wisdom tell us?  Lies, especially here. That even here, especially here in traditional or Biblical marriage, is a negotiation of an intrinsically unequal relationship. Man: patriarch/oppressor; woman: victim/subservient. That we must resign ourselves to an inevitable power struggle. That God invented patriarchy and subservience!

All nonsense. The Corinthians passage was written to first-century A.D. believers in Jesus Christ, long after the fall of man. It echoes the givens of the Garden. It reaffirms God’s original intent for marriage and tells us that we may still possess that graceful, perfect union that He made for us.  In the midst of a fallen and broken world we can live in real equality and true harmony.

What do we make, then, of these seemingly unequal passages?

…and you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.
 Genesis 3:16

The husband is the head of the wife. Ephesians 5:23

Let’s look. From Ephesians 5:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Not a comprehensive examination but a couple of points. This passage which contains “For the husband is the head of the wife” begins with “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The first may appear to be an expression of inequality and submission, but the topic sentence is an expectation of equal submission, mutual deference, mutual humility. There is no contradiction, only context.

In Genesis 3, we see God the Father explaining to Adam and Eve that their choice to sin will result in a chronic power struggle as each one contends for his own interest instead of living for the other. This was not a command; it was a prediction. God’s predictions: men will raise crops successfully but they will have to sweat and strive for the increase. Women will bear babies in joy, but first will come pain and anguish. The spiritual death you have chosen must manifest in physical death, else humans’ destructiveness to one another will be endless.

I’ve invented for you a mutually loving, mysteriously interdependent, incomparably intimate relationship, but instead you will choose to strive, alone, against one another. Women will selfishly try to control their husbands, and men will selfishly assert their power over their wives. Each will contend against the other for his and her own desires at the other’s expense, instead of living in the sublime harmony He planned for them.

We always, always do exactly what God predicts.

More testaments in the Word of God suggest that mutuality and equity are His ideal. Wouldn’t these general commands to his Church necessarily apply to marriages within that church?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 12-13

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 12:8


Here we see equality once again.

Do we in the Church sometimes buy into our culture’s misinterpretation? We substitute media-marketed counsel for true personal guidance and we find no end of this sort of stuff: Look at the dopey man; he just doesn’t “get” it. He’s just like clueless Adam, am I right? Adam ‘s sin was obeying Eve like a doormat. Husbands, you’ll be glad you took out the trash in the bedroom tonight! Wives, tryyyy and respect him, even though he’s an idiot. Fake it tonight even though of course you can’t feel like it because you’re chronically underappreciated.

These “Christian” marriage seminars, courses and books repeat snd trade on the shallow lie that marriage is a constant struggle for compromise between two people who can never understand each other. They offer a band-aid, a self-help guide for navigation through the unequal status quo, an eternal negotiation between doomed competitors.

Rather than two creatures of the same flesh, one created out of the other, who find their fulfillment in belonging together.

Grace upon grace! Even though the world is fallen, even though we are fallen, we still have access to that ideal that God designed.

Misunderstanding Mrs. Proverbs 31

The woman described in Proverbs 31 is meant to be an ideal. But in practice, she’s almost an object of ridicule among dedicated Christian women.  Who could do all that?!
At the same time, we don’t dismiss her. We ask her to wear a lot of our hats. She is called upon to endorse our preferences.

I have heard too many times from well-known pulpits and theologians and from other women, that the woman in Proverbs 31 is an ideal picture of a woman who has it all. She had a fulfilling home life and a career outside the home. I cannot find the evidence.

I certainly do not object to wives having careers. But let us refrain from misusing Biblical text.  Let’s let Scripture say what Scripture says, and not press it into our service. There may be Scripture to support our career choices, but I do not find that support in Proverbs 31.

Does the woman in Proverbs 31 have a career? Can we take a look together?

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Certainly no one can deny that this woman works. She is incredibly busy at home. She is such a diligent, efficient, committed worker that she seems to do the work of several people. Mentally walk through her day. When exactly do you find time in there for her to go to a job between “…she gets up while it is still night”…and “her lamp does not go out at night”?

Where is the career in this proverb? Is it this?

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She is the wife-manger of her husband’s estate.  An estate would include a home and the land where all that the man owns is located: the fields where food is grown, animals are pastured, and other agrarian products produced, all for the provision and wealth of the owner’s family.

She is the manager of all she surveys.  She possesses the trust of her husband and her household, and the prerogative to increase the wealth of her estate. She buys more property to add to her family farm.  This makes her an independent real estate agent?

Or is it that we’re so addicted to the trope that says that ancient women were subservient and socially powerless that we are blind to the plain meaning here: she is a respected woman of social standing with perfect freedom to manage the household estate and broker a land purchase in the marketplace?

Is it this the career?

She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

I use some skills I picked up in art college to create handmade books, which I sell. I do it all at home. I do not receive a paycheck. I do not spend my days assigned to a different location than my home. I do not observe company hours. And most importantly, I do not work for a boss.

Mrs. Proverbs 31 does not answer to any “boss” but her husband.  

The woman in Proverbs 31 excels at sewing.  She creates garments for everyone in her household so that they are properly, modestly dressed and warm in winter. In addition, she is such a diligent worker that she designs and sews sashes which she then sends to the marketplace to be sold.  She ingratiates herself with the merchants who will offer her products for sale by gifting them with these beautiful sashes. This has been a common practice of homesteaders and farmer’s wives throughout human history. This makes her a businesswoman with a career?

She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night. 

Picture her sitting in front of the household accounts at night after everyone else is in bed. 

This woman is a wife and mother who works tirelessly for the benefit of her family’s estate. She feathers her nest, she builds up her home. I  do not see any evidence in the passage which places this woman under the authority of a boss not her husband, or transplants her effort to another sphere outside her home, non-inclusive of her home

I just can’t find that outside-the-home job in Proverbs 31. If you find it, please let me know.

She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy.

This woman, and by extension her family, profits from the overflow of her domestic activity.  She is doing all these things for her household, and she is so diligent that she produces a generous surplus and God rewards her industry. This is the home overflowing out into the world, not the world — a job—inserting itself into the home. Nor is it her leaving her home to be profitable for another’s interest.

Charity begins at home; her generosity sends her wealth out into her community. Missions begin at home; her abundance sends the next generation out into the world and into the future.

Generosity, charity, philanthropy, obedience to the Lord’s commands to love your neighbor. Call these a career if you like but I don’t see it.

Don’t we have to devalue her hard work at home in order to insist that she have a career in addition to her homemaking?  If so, is that because the work done by a woman in her home, for her home, isn’t perceived as being “real” work? Or significant work?

Let’s find other sources of blessing on our lifestyle choices. Proverbs 31 Woman is busy enough without putting on all the hats we need her to wear.

M.E.

This, written over a few weeks’ time. Then today’s update.

I overdid it yesterday. I was a little too active, but more foolishly, I was mentally positive and energized about some projects I hope to work on in the future. This morning I am exhausted, especially mentally. Once again, everything seems overwhelming and unfocused.

I live on a rollercoaster. Not a fun one. I never know what the next day will bring–physically, mentally. I live on a razor’s edge. Too much exercise produces a “crash” but how much is “too much” changes constantly.

I have M.E., or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Disorder. Take your pick; most people don’t know what any of them mean anyway. “Most people” includes most doctors.

To list, I also have migraines, P.O.T.S./Orthostatic Intolerance, and Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM), to name just the biggies. I don’t sleep well, and even a long sleep produces no refreshing. I must maintain a strict low carb-no sugar diet to function, and I have digestive system issues which I have never really pursued. I cannot tolerate hot weather and sitting in the sun makes me feel ill, whether or not it’s hot. I also have a sometimes symptomatic MVP. Not a comprehensive list but it will do.

I am also struggling mightily with depression and anxiety. This should be its own topic.

Owing to both physical and mental challenges, I’ve had an ongoing dance with being housebound for the last 26 years. At one time I was bed-bound for almost a year.

How did I get here?

When I was 19, at the end of my freshman year of college, I picked up mononucleosis. I had a rather mild case and I felt back to normal after two to three weeks. Life went on normally for several years. I completed art school, and married my long-time fiancé. I had two children. After the second, I started to feel my stress levels somatically. I developed minor chest pain and got my diagnosis for mitral valve prolapse. Harmless, but disturbingly symptomatic.

While pregnant with my third baby, I was wiped out and had very low blood pressure throughout. During the next pregnancy I developed intermittent hip pain. Over the course of the pregnancy the joint became problematic.

I bore that son and carried on, albeit that walking was difficult. Graduslly my hip deteriorated until my foot was turned inward several inches off the  ground and rotating it was painful. If I could lean on the carriage handle for balance, I was OK. But by the time the baby was a few months old, I had a diagnosis and a prognosis for the hip. It was idiopathic, meaning nobody knew why. But it was an autoimmune disorder: my body attacked my hip and destroyed it. I had total hip replacement surgey at the age of 33, when my fourth baby was 13 months old.

Too many triggers.

Hip surgery was in June 1993. In March of 1994 I was three months pregnant and not feeling too well. This wasn’t first trimester ill. It was something new. On March 20, I got myself dressed, got the kids dressed, got to church and started feeling deflated and woozy. I lay on the floor in the nursery until the kids were done Sunday School and my husband helped me to the car. I went home and stayed there for the next several months. After that day, I quickly progressed to a bedridden state. I emerged only to birth my daughter and returned to bed for three more months.

Written down this way, telescoped, I see that it looks like I worked hard on getting ill. I had five children in nine years. In addition, I was a highly stressed person by temperament. I have lived in a state of overehelmn-ness most of my life.

But I was always very healthy. I had normal stamina and rarely caught things. I still am rarely sick. I still think of myself as a basically healthy person, who has a few chronic maladjustments which give me symptoms, but do not pose any serious threat.

If you have a chronic condition, you constantly evaluate your present state and adjust accordingly. Food, activity, exercise, your to-do list— it’s all contingent and subject to change. You push forward most of the time but your condition calls the shots.

And sometimes you realize that you just have to lie down and let it roll over you. That’s where I am, right now. It will pass, but I have to be realistic and patient.

It’s been months though. I am convinced that I am unlikely to improve a lot while living under this black cloud of anxiety. You know the one I mean because you’re living there too. The relentless drumbeat: fear the virus. Fear the virus.

I lost the presumption of invincibility which young people normally have long ago because of my chronic symptoms. I feel vulnerable. So the news on the pandemic worked on me, even while I saw the manipulation and dishonesty about it. Shouldn’t have, but honestly, it did.

Update. I came down with shingles at the end of March. I spent the month of April on the couch. I spent the beginning of May slowly returning to my normal, which was staying in, pacing myself carefully, eating a super-nutritious diet, and living with moderate ME. Then came a couple days of feeling pretty well. I remember thinking: I’m definitely over the shingles, in fact I feel better than I did before the shingles!

Of course, I overdid it. If I tell you how little I did to overdo, you would be appaled.

I have now been back on the couch for a week. I have crashed, big time. I am looking more deeply into POTS. Orthostatic Intolerance. Dysautonomia. I do know that this is a huge component of my illness, but I haven’t done much about it. The way I feel this morning moves me to pursue this issue for some solutions.

If only for myself, I will now list the evidence for POTS. Right now: standing for more than a few minutes produces high heart rate, a sickly feeling, queasiness, weakness, dizziness. At times of best health: pre-syncope. A feeling I ignore of needing to lie down, inability to change position easily– I began sitting throughout the church service while others stood because I would have a feeling of vertigo or spatial disorientation. Since I was a kid, my feet would swell and turn red in hot weather. I have never tolerated heat or the sun well; for some years now they are intolerable. Summers in humid PA are long months to dread.

Most of my symptoms can be chalked up to POTS. But one is the marker only of ME. PEM.

The one thing characteristic of ME is PEM: post-exertional malaise. Everything is delayed. I may overdo today but I crash after 5 days,  and for who knows how long. Payback is out of proportion to the effort expended. Everything is delayed. I may be eating like a bodybuilder monk and that will pay off, if I’m consistent, in 8 months.

It’s very difficult to perform so that you stay functional because it’s hard to know what caused or is causing a crash. How do I avoid the next one?

I have to live like someone prepping for a triathalon just to function poorly. Minus the exercise. Exercise is actually BAD for you if you have ME. Do too much and the payback is you in bed for extended periods.

I will now need to crawl toward my normal–and that’s other people’s version of getting over the flu. You could say I’m discouraged.

100 Years Ago Today

My mother was born on April 30, 1921. She would have been 100 years old today.

When my great nephew was told that his great grandmother had passed way, he was disappointed. “Now she won’t make it to 100.”


She made it to 96 1/2. That last year, I had occasion more than once to say to her that getting to be almost 100 was quite an accomplishment, that she didn’t have anything to prove, that she should relax, and that to accept help when you’ve attained such an age was no shame.
She did not listen. Her atty-tood endured to the end. But I guess that’s how you get to be almost 100.

We threw her a surprise party on her 70th birthday, then on her 80th, then on her 90th. What a party we would have had this year.

Happy Birthday, Marguerite Theresa Smith Mercer.

My First Holy Communion. She made my dress.

Her 90th birthday party.

We Have Devalued Us

Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) was the most prominent of the early English poets of North America and the first writer to be published in England’s North American colonies. She is the first Puritan figure in American literature, and is notable for her large body of poetry, as well as personal writings published posthumously. Born to a wealthy Puritan family in Northampton, England, Bradstreet was a well-read scholar, mother of eight children, and the wife of a public officer in the New England community. Bradstreet managed to write poetry in addition to her many other responsibilities and duties. Her writing developed into a unique style of poetry which centered on her role as a mother, her struggles with the sufferings of life, and her Puritan faith.

It would be great if we stopped stripping wifehood and motherhood of their values.

I was heartened to notice, in the summary of Anne Bradstreet’s life, that she was given credit for doing important work which she found time to write in spite of. Do you hear it? She was the mother of eight and the wife of a busy and influential man in the community. Even so, she managed to find time to be the first poet of the New Nation.

I truly want to thank the author of this surprising summary.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we extoll the achievements of accomplished women, we recognized their work as mothers and wives, as managers of households and superintendents of families?

Even the stay-at-home community, even the SAHM homeschooler community engages in this marginalization of traditional women’s work. We feature the homeschooling mom because she runs a successful home-based business, because she creates a useful ministry, because shes an author of this women’s group study or that Christian market fiction series.

We do not extoll the woman who invests her entire supply of energy and committment to her family. The one who has eschewed outside pursuits to put her whole focus, to pour herself out, for the building up of those in her household— to single-focus on the service of her husband and children.