I never expect much wisdom coming from Christian blogger and professional mommy-shamer Lori Alexander (a.k.a. “The Transformed Wife”), but it would be nice if she at least reduced the amount of harm she was causing.
Last week, a woman wrote to her on Facebook attempting to challenge the view that if a conservative Christian woman played by every rule, then God would reward her. She specifically brought up Anna Duggar, the wife of child molester Josh Duggar.
Josh has been in so much trouble over the past few years — with revelations that he inappropriately touched several of his younger sisters when they were kids, that he was having an affair, and that he had downloaded illicit images of children on his computer — and yet Anna has played the part of the loyal wife this entire time. Hell, they just had another child together.
The woman writing to Alexander pointed out that Anna did everything she was ever told… but now she was more like a prisoner unable to escape this marriage because of the unwritten rules of Christian fundamentalism:
While Anna certainly is a victim of her unfaithful husband, let’s not forget she is also a victim of a toxic belief system that has been engrained into her by fundamentalist Christianity for the entirety of her life… How many more stories like Anna need to happen before the fundamentalist church realizes that their messages concerning submission, sex, divorce, purity culture, and patriarchy, aren’t working?… After all, Anna did everything she was told to do to be guaranteed a safe and happy marriage. Perhaps, maybe, the problem isn’t Anna but instead the fact that she married an abusive man and the church refused to give her the support she needed to remain safe?
The writer went on to say that other young Christian women needed to be told that “giving him more sex will not cure his addiction” and that “practicing courtship will not divorce-proof or affair-proof her marriage” and that leaving him doesn’t mean she’s “breaking her marriage vows.”
Those are all valid points.
And yet Alexander’s response was to downplay the harm caused by Josh and to insist that Anna was right to stay by his side:
You want to rid culture of all of God’s ways due to one sinful, fallen man. You must be a feminist and humanist… Josh wasn’t an “abusive” man. The sisters in their interview said clearly that they didn’t think he was a rapist nor did he molest them. He “mildly touched them over their clothing.” He was a curious young teenage boy. Yes, this was wrong, and it was dealt with but don’t blow it out of proportion in order to make your unbiblical point…
Besides using “feminist” and “humanist” as slurs, the idea that inappropriate touching should be excused because a couple of the victims decided it didn’t bother them that much — and because they had a cash cow reality TV show franchise to save — doesn’t negate the harm such abuse causes to so many other people. Furthermore, had people taken the abuse more seriously, perhaps he wouldn’t have been in his current position, where he faces decades behind bars for downloading hundreds of graphic and illicit content of underage kids.
But Alexander thinks everyone is just blowing this “out of proportion.”
This isn’t just about Anna, though. She can make her own decisions. The bigger concern is about other young women who don’t have money or fame to their names and who grow up thinking their husband’s problems are all their fault and that there’s no way out of a bad relationship. There’s no room in Alexander’s narrow worldview for a better life after a broken marriage.
As if her responses weren’t bad enough, Alexander issued a separate post days later elaborating on her bad ideas… and somehow got even worse.
What I have noticed is that some women who have suffered through physical or sexual abuse in their childhood or marriage, tend to project their experience onto everyone else, and it blurs their perspective about marriage… … Many of the popular female preachers were somehow abused in their lives. This is why thy twist Scripture and rail against the Church in order to do what they are doing, namely sinning against God and His Word. … I saw Christian women sharing this woman’s post about Anna Duggar and raving about it. Many women have little discernment and wisdom these days, because they follow female preachers who teach to their itching ears instead of biblical truths that would probably offend them. It’s a lot easier teaching to women’s emotions and feelings rather than hard, biblical truths. But teaching to their emotions doesn’t bear good fruit.
There we go. Any woman who suggests divorce is an option or that a conservative upbringing isn’t necessary for women is herself a victim of abuse. Because, in her mind, there’s no rational way a Christian woman would ever deviate from the path she took. It’s just broken brain thinking — that your way is the only way, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a heretic trying to mislead you.
It’s because of women like Lori Alexander that Christian women in conservative circles are frequently victims of spousal abuse, unable to find support in their families or churches. They are led to believe marriage and children are their ultimate goals and there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little more Jesus in their lives.
(Thanks to Cynthia for the link)