Friday, March 3, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter One - Part Two

 In the first part of this chapter, we learned that the Princess is young and very sheltered by her father, the King.  Her biggest problem right now is the Alligator who brought up the fact that she's doesn't have the skill set to help her people and that she'll have to make choices some day.

Next, Ms. Mally launches into an overview of "radiant purity".  As near as I can tell, it encompasses all the annoyances and headaches of maintaining physical purity with a whole new level of crazy when it comes to avoiding emotional entanglements.  Perhaps that's the secret point - if you are so closely guarded that you've never shared an indiscreet smile with a boy, you don't have to worry about losing your virginity.

Let's look at some choice quotes:

The difference was not ultimately a result of how they met, how they got to know each other, or whether they called their relationship "dating," "courtship," "betrothal," or anything else.(pg 22)
  • Let's see how long that idea plays out, shall we?  One of the cover quotes on the flyleaf is from Gregg Harris whose son Josh Harris wrote "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" so 
  • I'm guessing chapter 4 is where we reverse that statement.
Temptation in this area of boy /girl relationships is one of the biggest snares that the enemy uses to damage the lives and testimonies of Christian young people. Many lives have been destroyed. Many others have survived only with scars, pain, and heartache.(pg. 22)
  • Holy hyperbole!  Premarital sex does not lead directly to death or scarring; implying that temptation alone leads to death or scarring is massive overkill.
  •  Notice that wrecking the lives of young people isn't enough.  The Enemy also manages to kill their testimonies!  Oh, the horror!  
    • Except....there's another theme running in Good Girl (TM) CP blogs and books.  The theme is that many of the sheltered girls question the value of their testimonials because they haven't had a major sin to repent of.  I can see where that would put a cramp in the dramatic impact of the testimonial. 
    • Which sounds better?
      •  "I was a drug-addict, porn-watching. Democrat before Christ and now I'm washed in the blood of the Lamb and have left all of that evil behind me!" 
      • "I was really cranky some mornings when I had to make breakfast for my giant home-schooled family of siblings but now with the Power of Christ I sing every morning while making porridge!"
      • Yeah, I voted for the first one, too.
Since marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ, God created marriage to be the most beautiful, joyful, and fulfilling earthly relationship we will ever experience. A good marriage is priceless. No one would trade it for anything -- or would they? Countless young people are willing to forfeit the beautiful marriage God wants to give them in exchange for short-term thrills. If we could grasp how wonderful God's plan for us is, don't you think we'd be willing to wait? Don't you think we would purpose to enter marriage pure rather than with emotional baggage and scars? (pg. 23)
  • *howls in irritation*  I HATE WHEN PEOPLE DO THIS!    Learn how to interpret Scriptures like a real adult.  The first step is the hardest since it requires reading the Bible accurately.
    • Marriage is NOT a picture of our relationship with Christ.  Paul used marriage as an analogy to understand the relationship between Christ and the Church.  The important part of the analogy is the relationship between Christ and the Church - the marriage is the minor, but more easily understood part of the analogy.
    • God created marriage so that Adam wouldn't be alone.  It's one of the main themes in Genesis 2.  Another option is the God created marriage so that humans could reproduce - see Genesis 3. 
    • Discussions of marriage as "beautiful, joyful and fulfilling" are scant in the Bible.  We can have differing opinions as to why this is absent, but I'm comfortable with the fact that life in Biblical times was insanely hard.  Keeping your family fed, clothed, in shelter and not killed by a rival tribe of people took every minute of the day.  Worrying about fulfillment - that's a modern luxury.
  • I feel like this paragraph needs a sound track.  The sentence that ends in italics needs a dramatic series of chords that matches the overwrought nature of the sentence.  Reading that in your best scary voice is a close second.
  • I feel like the last sentence requires a public service announcement to undo the damage that idea is going to cause.
    • *sits backward on a chair and flips a baseball cap backwards* "Hi, kids.  Let's rap.  Look, no one comes into a marriage without emotional baggage or emotional scars.  That's part of growing up.  As you make your way in the world, you will fail.  You will hurt others.  You will be hurt.  You will lose friendships.  You will lose people.  That's life.  Your job is to learn how to survive the inevitable downs in life and how to support others when they are down.  Peace out."  
" You know what, Sarah? " a fifteen-year-old friend told me recently. "It's really true. God's plans are so much better than we could ever imagine. My older brother is planning to be a pastor. He had such a long list of specific requirements for his future wife that our family used to tease him. We insisted that he'd never get married-- that such a girl didn't exist. But then he met Lori! She is so perfect for him. She not only fits every one of his qualifications-- she far surpasses them! It's incredible to see how God brought exactly the way he needed. He wasn't willing to lowered his standards, and God bless his faith. " (pg. 24)
  • Good anecdotes illustrate their point; they don't tell you.  
    • I hate to say this, but I miss Debi Pearl's anecdotes.  They were crass and catty as hell, but they at least were entertaining.  This is immediately forgettable.
  • I get that this anecdote is supposed to inspire the reader to make a list of qualifications for their future spouse, but....I'm more caught up by the absolute lack of characterization of anyone involved in the story.  
    • What is the older brother like?  
    • What were his list of qualifications?
    • Which of those qualities did his family think were silly or pedantic?
    • How does Lori supersede all of the qualities?
    • What is the older brother bringing to a marriage with such a paragon of virtue?
    • Why is the 15-year old sharing this story with Sarah anyways?
  • Friendship can span broad age gaps - but the fact that Ms. Mally is referring to a 15-year-old as a friend when she is at least 25 years old is disconcerting.  
    • When I was young teacher of 24 or 25, high school classes would try and bargain their way out of homework by asking if I wanted to be their friend.   An answer I liked to give was "I'm sorry.  My friends have to be old enough to buy alcohol legally.  Ask again in a few years" so that I wasn't being rude or dismissive of a light-hearted, kind of sweet request.
    • Now that I'm thinking about those students were older than 15.   Most were 17-19.  Fifteen is a freshman or sophomore in high school.  That's a fun age - but I don't know how you would have a true two-way friendship between a teen and a young adult.  The only way I can see the friendship working is if the young adult is immature....which doesn't bode well for this book.

It's important for all of us to understand that there are two kinds of purity.

First, there is the innocent, or clean type. Imagine a white cloth which is never been dirty or contaminated- it is pure. This idea of "innocence" might be the first thing that comes to your mind when we think of purity.

But there is a second kind of purity-- the washed kind. Something was dirty, but it's been washed, it's been cleansed. A white rag may have been used to clean up a filthy mess, but once it has been thoroughly cleaned, it is pure and spotless again. It was black, but now it's white. (...)[editor's note: The omitted paragraphs discuss how no one has the first type of purity in relation to Christ]

In light of this, it's important to realize the purity is offered to anyone- no matter what your past has been, no matter what mistakes you have made. (...) it is never too late to turn to the Lord and experience the joy, peace, and abundant life He offers. (pg. 25)
  • These metaphors are sick.  Absolutely fucking sick.  
  • These purity sections highlight an important theme in Christian Patriarchy's views on women's sexuality: God forgives your sins, but your neighbors never forget it.
    • You can see how deeply this idea of irreplaceable purity is in the verbs they choose.
      • When describing past interactions - I can't call them sins - Ms. Mally writes in simple past tense like "Something was dirty" and "It was black" or a verb phrase like "to clean up a filthy mess.  The net result is a strong, clear, unconditional statement of disgust.
      • Compare that to the verbs she chooses to describe the purity offered by Christ: "[it has] been washed, [it has] been cleansed" "but now it is white" and "A white rag may have been used".  By adding conditional verbs or placing the sentence as a dependent clause, the message is that purity itself is conditional and dependent on actions - even when the person is redeemed in Christ!
  • The strangest thing to me is that the entire section places the purity that comes from Christ redeeming our sins as of less importance than Emo-Pur (emotional purity).  After describing that we are all sinners lacking purity in our relationship with Christ, Ms. Mally doubles down to make sure that we are clear that Emo-Pure has two types of purity - the original and the type offered for people who have "messed up.:
What is radiant purity? Well, I believe inward purity is outwardly visible. It's seen in our countenance. It's seen in our eyes. It's seen in our joy. It seems we boldly take a stand-- not just "going along" with this idea of purity, but excitedly making it known to others. (pg. 26)
  • Hmph.  I remember the innocent Mel of yesteryear who wouldn't have been creeped out by the noun "countenance."  That Mel wouldn't have immediately started Googling combinations of "Sarah Mally" and "Gothard", "Institutes", "IBLP" etc.  
    • I don't know if the Mallys are involved or were involved with Gothardism.  If they were, they've done a good job of scrubbing their blog of any mention.  "Before....Charming" is being sold through IBLP, though.  
  • Jeepers.  It's not enough to merely be a first-line, squeaky pure person; you have to rub it in everyone else's face.  
    • Based on my scant perusal of Grace Mally's blog, her family is really into Kamikaze witnessing - those people who appear out of nowhere in a public place and start trying to give you pamphlets or tracts or try to convince you to say the "Sinner's Prayer" when all you want to do is watch the local fireworks or parade.....
      • My quick ways to escape:
        • Pretend I'm deaf and start using ASL.  
        • Let my husband start chattering in German.
        • Say with true enthusiasm "Oh, I loved this (pamphlet, tract, whatever)! It changed my life.   Good luck on getting your Girl Scout (or Boy Scout) badge!"  Run while they try to figure out what the hell you meant by that.
        • Look over their shoulder, wave like you see someone you know, make a quick apology and run.
The next chapter is - damn it - "Dangers with the Dating System".  Lost that bet.  

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