Sunday, February 14, 2010

My deconversion story Pt 7 - And he fails

It wasn’t long before the school districts started hiring again. But I really didn’t bother to apply for any positions. Even though money was tight, we knew that with the husband training to get a job at one of the local hospitals, it wouldn’t last forever. We became followers of the work of Elizabeth Ann Warren and decided that we wanted to stay out of what we called the two-income trap. We were actually managing to save money, which never happened when we were both working, and we were both growing much healthier. And along the way we found the Patriocentric Christian movement, and with it the idea of Homeschooling.

Perhaps I should say it found us. I had finally began dressing and presenting myself in a way that overcompensated for the way I had been treated in the past. I let my curly hair grow long, started wearing wide headbands, hats, and other head coverings to hide the bald spots, found that long skirts and denim jumpers look the best on my large, admittedly masculine frame, and sewed most of what I wore out of calico, to give it that feminine, floral edge. And my husband favors khaki pants, polos, and hats. In other words, we look like the quintessential Patriocentric couple, and so, when out in public, people from the local Patriocentric churches gravitated toward us. I found myself being called “sister”, and asked to watch everything from shopping carts to children, and then being asked to pray with the women once they returned from the rest room. Naturally, I started asking questions.

I also found my way to Ladies Against Feminism. As much as I considered myself a feminist still, it was the only place on the web where I found support for being a stay-at-home-wife without children. For a brief time, we thought we might have found a home.

For a very brief time.

The more we read the less we liked it. Paganisim is a Matriocentric religion, I used to joke that I had to stop calling myself a Pagan when I got to know my husband, and realized I could only consider him my equal. Going all the way from one extreme to the other simply would not work for us, we were what most people would call egalitarian, and that was that. Also, the inherent theonomy and the homophobia and the near rejection of the idea that parents can be abusers offended us. So while we thought it a very pretty thing, with perhaps a good idea or two, we rejected the idea of joining any sort of Patriocentric movement.

We flirted with other Christian churches. I believe we looked at the Presbyterians and the Lutherans, and I know we attended the Episcopalian church a few times. But by then the husband was working at the local Catholic hospital, and he admired the good work and charity care they offered the community. I had been raised Catholic, of course, and his parents had recently converted to the Catholic Church from the formerly Methodist membership. So we tool the path of least resistance and signed my husband up for the RCIA program. He eventually joined the church, with his immensely proud father as his sponsor, and we spent a number of years there as out church home. I joined a social group, he joined the choir, and we began doing volunteer work in the community. I had a number of long discussions with Fr. M, where he reassured me that the Church attitude toward blaming the victim in cases of abuse was long gone, and even the inherent homophobia wasn’t as bad as the press made out. We thought life was good.

But….more and more, I began to feel like there was a problem, with God.

Every time we went to mass we were surrounded by small flocks of children. It tore at my heart every time, because I so wanted to be a Mother, to be able to walk in with a baby or child that was mine. The last straw was this one time we went to mass, the 5pm on Saturday that was usually mostly older adults. This family sat in front of us, a young couple with this perfect, rosy cheeked, and laughing little girl. She couldn’t have been more than a year, all decked out in a white dress with pink roses and ribbons. She was utterly perfect, exactly how I hoped my daughter would be. When my husband looked over and saw the tears running down my cheeks he led me back to the car and asked me what was wrong. I told him it felt like God was taunting me, rubbing my nose in what I couldn’t have. If God wanted me in mass so badly, why couldn’t he at least have one mass that was mostly adults?

Why, God? Why are you making this more painful than it needs to be?

My husband agreed, he had been feeling the same way. When he went to work that night he put in for a switch to the day shift. Within a few weeks he was working during every mass service, and we never went back.

We had been reading more about the Patriocentic movement, learning about the Ezzos and Babywise, about the Pearls, about Gothard and ATI. We were horrified at the thought of some of the tortures they were advocating, locking children in “prayer closets”, beating them with plumber’s line and glue sticks, letting babies scream with hunger to get them on a schedule. Back in our alternative sexuality days we had both allowed ourselves to be beaten with sticks, and we knew how much that had hurt on adult bodies. Who in their right minds would do that to a child? I remember reading Doug Phillip’s blog, and an off hand comment about how they had beaten one of their girls, who turned and screamed through her tears that she was going to “tell Jesus on them.” He proudly recounted how he and his wife laughed about it as they beat her again.

Why, God? Why?

At the same time, the Patriocentrics, and more and more of Christianity as a whole embraced the Quiverfull movement. The idea of the virtue of a stay-at-home wife fell away as Motherhood became the only “normative” goal, and what did you do that God is punishing you with infertility? We sat there and watched these families have baby after baby, eight, ten, twelve, all the while beating and tormenting them in the name of God.

Why God? You know we’d never harm a child, we’d only teach them your love. Why do you keep giving those families children and not us? Why?

For all that Fr. M had reassured me that the Catholic church no longer blamed the victim, under the new Pope that seemed to change. He showed support of the priests and sisters accused and convicted of sexual and physical abuse in the US and Ireland, and chose to excommunicate the people who helped a 9 year old girl in Peru who had been raped, and would not survive bearing twins, while not saying a word against the man who had raped her.

Why, God? Where is the mercy and justice here?

I think the FLDS was the last straw for me. Back when I was working three jobs and going to college, one of those jobs was an aid with Child Protective Services. I knew that there was no way any county would pony up the budget money for an operation as big as the raid on the FLDS compound without firm evidence that children were being raped and abused. Finally, I thought, God is using the state to step in and save children. All of the “good Christians” around the net who are screaming that this is nothing but persecution, who are making death threats against the people who are trying to help these girls, will see the truth. I mean, most of the men refused DNA tests, to me a clear sign that they were guilty of something.

A couple of weeks later the children went back, before the few DNA tests they had been able to pull were back from the lab. I was horrified.

Why God? Why are you allowing these girls to be raped in your name? Why? Why?

I never did get an answer. Ever.

It was becoming clear to me, that either God was the biggest bastard in the universe, a monster who loved to watch children suffer, who savored the tears of the forsaken, who encouraged the rape of young girls. Or else there was no God.

There was no such thing as God.