Religion

Lies Women Believe

Note: This is not a book recommendation.

The other day I saw three women talking and reading together at Einstein’s bagels, where I went for breakfast and to work on my own book. I guessed they were Christians because one woman had a fat leather-covered Bible. The book they were reading was called “Lies Women Believe.” Being the nosey thing that I am, I had to look it up on Amazon. Here’s what I found:

The lies Christian women believe are at the root of their struggles. In Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss exposes areas of deception common to many Christian women — lies about God, sin, priorities, marriage and family, emotions, and more. She deals honestly with women’s delusions and illusions and then gently leads them to the truth of God’s word that leads to true freedom.Walking in Truth, the companion study to Lies Women Believe will help women go deeper into God’s Word, walk more fully in His grace, and experience the joy of the abundant life Christ promised.

Here are a few lies the author says women believe:

  • Lies about themselves: I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings.
  • Lies about sin: I cannot walk in consistent victory over sin.
  • Lies about their marriage: If I submit to my husband, I will be miserable.
  • Lies about their emotions: I can’t control my emotions.
  • Lies about their circumstances: I just can’t take any more.

Of course, all of the answers are in the Bible, according to the author. Just reading this short list made me want to puke, so I don’t think I’ll be reading the book.

I’d like to point out some other lies that women believe. Thankfully, skepchicks don’t fall for this kind of crap:

  • Lies about themselves: Fulfilling your longings is selfish and evil. Women should never put themselves first. Jesus, Others, You is the way to JOY.
  • Lies about sin: Sin is a real thing that you should worry about. Offending God is really, really bad, even worse than committing crimes that actually hurt people.
  • Lies about their marriage: You should submit to your husband but your husband doesn’t have to submit to you.
  • Lies about their emotions: Emotions are a sign of weakness or evil and only women have emotions.
  • Lies about their circumstances: Women are weak and need help from God or men to deal with daily stresses.

As I’ve been reading Infidel (I will start posting some discussions about the book this weekend, so I hope you’ve been reading!), I found myself getting pissed off about the way Islam treats women; but in truth, Christianity is not much better. The outer details may differ and seem less extreme, but the ineternal misogyny is the same. Patriarchal monotheism is a real downer for women. I can’t understand how any strong, independent woman would want to follow such a religion. The biggest lie women believe is that the Bible can tell them the best way to live in the 21st century. It makes me cry. OK, well almost, because I can control my sappy, weak, female emotions.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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39 Comments

  1. I'm a little over halfway through Infidel right now (just finished the "Tribal Elders" chapter), and I'm probably going to finish it tonight or tomorrow night. I keep having difficulty remembering that this is a real story taking place in a real world, corresponding to events I remember (like the famine in Somalia in the early 90s). It's strange how I can imagine people acting like she describes, but not, you know, in reality.

  2. What a load of crap.

    Putting other people first is sometimes a good and necessary thing (getting up with a sick baby when you're exhausted, for example), but never putting yourself first on a chronic basis leads to chronic depression, not JOY.

    Bleh.

  3. "Lies about their marriage: If I submit to my husband, I will be miserable."

    Clearly, the book will explain the use of a "safeword" in case their roleplay gets a little out of hand. I had no idea that fundamentalists were willing to go to such lengths to spice up their marriages. BDSM must be in the Bible.

  4. I had to read part of the Koran for World Lit and I was so offended at the passages regarding women. Then it dawned on me that Christianity is no better; one needs only to suffer through a conversation with a Baptist to come to that conclusion.

    Sometimes it's hard to really see what we see everyday.

  5. This is definitely worth talking about, and something I don't think gets mentioned nearly enough.

    Several years ago, I was lucky enough to have teaching my required religion course a young, intelligent, female professor who, even though she was herself came from a very Christian tradition, recognized inconsistencies with feminism, and was willing to discuss them. Even though I disagreed with her that one could find a way to reconcile the two, I respected her for facing the issue squarely. But rationalizing and canonizing the poor treatment of women as part of the religion like this book is trying to do? Truly frightening.

  6. I'm sure I couldn't read that book. I've heard moments of Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the radio and that was already too much for me.

    What's your book going to be about, Donna? Sorry if you've already written about it and I missed it.

  7. Hmmmmm., I honestly worry about any guy who thinks that having a submissive wife is some kind of an ideal. I’ve been married to my best friend/equal/partner… for twenty one years and to think that others have been married that long and longer where one party to the agreement has their (her) role defined as the one who acquiesces, is hard to even contemplate. Then again what happens in Muslim marriages and cultures is much, much worse and a whole lot more dangerous.

  8. What I find insane, is that on a daily basis what *I* see is that women who "submit" are not treated with respect by their husbands. So this advice seems completely ass-backwards.

    The Christian mythology seems to be that women's respect is in the sphere of the home, serving others, etc. but what I observe is that a) this really doesn't apply to the world we live in today and b) women are respected more when they fulfill themselves as people. They may therefore open themselves up to criticism, but that's part of being a person.

    And to respond to a comment from James Fox, who said, in part Then again what happens in Muslim marriages and cultures is much, much worse and a whole lot more dangerous. I would disagree… look at domestic abuse (not that this is necessarily correlated with Christianity), but I think it's the extreme of that idea of submission (which gets the woman nowhere in that situation), and so much of our culture is complicit in it. I would even posit that abuse that goes on within any rigid community or dogma is even more susceptible to going on with others in that family/community/whatever complicit in it.

    I feel like I'm not collecting my thoughts very well here, but what I'm getting at is that ANY dogma that defines rigid roles, one of them completely submissive and passive, opens the door to really horrific abuse, so I'm not content to just point the finger at Muslim culture and say that it's necessarily worse. I have just seen too much of what goes on in Christian homes/families. And I'm also not saying that the abuse is because of the religion, but the dogma of the religion makes it so much easier for people to justify, cover up, and ignore what's going on.

  9. It is a shame how so many strong woman are drawn down to the lies and fears that is broght into these studys, to become submisive to an abuser or an unfaithful spouse, and made to feel like if they just allow God to take all there pains and they will never have to deal with the bad stuff, being an ex christian it is hard to see all the bs that woman have to deal with and yes some times chritian teaching can be just as bad a muslim teaching on how to treat woman

  10. Reading "Infidel" right along with you. Since I'm roughly the same age as the author, I can compare what I was doing in my life when she gives dates about what she was doing in her life – interesting stuff.

    Yah, there's a lot of comparibles between Islam and Christianity, esp. where women are concerned. However, a big difference (not that I'm a supporter of Christianity) is the violence – the Bible may say that women should be submissive, but in the major Christian countries you can't go around beating your wife if she isn't.

  11. Eh, I think for the most part you can get away with beating your wife in the US anyway. Law enforcement is generally loath to get involved in what is seen as "domestic" situations. And, any protections we do have are precisely because we have a secular (well, supposedly) government and legal system. I wouldn't say that the Bible is keeping women safe from beatings.

  12. fygrrl, that's what I was going to say. Thanks. Also, if the woman accepts that it is OK for her husband to beat her, there's no way to press charges unless she's seriously injured or killed. You should hear the sad stories about how women have been treated by their husbands in the US on the ex-fundamentalist support group list I participate in.

  13. I just finished 'Infidel' this weekend. Couldn't put it down. What a great book. I did the 'follow the author to see what I was doing when she was doing stuff' too and realised that I lived in Kenya at same time she did. Same country, different planet…

    Regarding this stupid book, we should also not forget that there are buckets of stupid so-called self-help books for women that have nothing to do with religion but still offer bad advice. :)

  14. • Flygrry wrote: And to respond to a comment from James Fox, who said, in part Then again what happens in Muslim marriages and cultures is much, much worse and a whole lot more dangerous. I would disagree… look at domestic abuse (not that this is necessarily correlated with Christianity), but I think it’s the extreme of that idea of submission (which gets the woman nowhere in that situation), and so much of our culture is complicit in it. I would even posit that abuse that goes on within any rigid community or dogma is even more susceptible to going on with others in that family/community/whatever complicit in it.

    The statistics and research simply do not support your thoughts regarding Christian homes. Domestic violence and child abuse is much lower in homes with regular church attendance. However, I think that many misogynists, totalitarian and abusive types will use a religious excuse for their behavior but they are in fact not that religious. (except when psychotic and killing women in movies and on TV) On the other hand what happens in Muslin marriages all around the world is really extremely different and much more abusive than what could reasonable be described as a “Christian marriage”. Honor killings, female circumcision, arranged marriages, no child custody or legal rights when there is a divorce, frequent beatings and burnings with NO legal or community support groups. The study of religious and cultural familial abuse patterns has been an area I study and read on regularly; and I’ve been investigating child abuse for twenty one years and worked in mental health systems for five years before that, often with victims of domestic violence and child abuse and most folk in these situations are poor, disenfranchised, mentally ill, abuse substances or any combination of the above. Males who abuse children are much more likely to be step parents or a paramour of the mother which is less common in traditional religious families as is substance abuse problems. However domestic violence and child abuse is much more common in the more cultish Christian derivative faiths such as Jehovah’s Witness’s, Mormons, and I include any faith practice that involves withholding necessary medical care for religious reasons. One can always find anecdotal stories to support any premise that this or that group is bad. But as we know anecdote is not plural for data, and spousal and child abuse is much more serious, damaging and results in more physical injuries, permanent disabilities or mutilations and deaths in Muslim marriages than in “Christian marriages”.

    Please again reference my initial comments and know that I think the idea of female submission in marriage is offensive, unhealthy, unethical and stupid.

  15. The statistics and research simply do not support your thoughts regarding Christian homes

    That's interesting, because I had heard the opposite. But perhaps that's one of those common "everybody knows" type things that is just wrong. If I'm wrong, then I stand corrected. And just to clarify, I wasn't singling you out to pick on (I think I'm guilty of a 'can't judge tone online' error, so I apologize). I was just saying that ideologically, I don't think the two religions are that far apart; and as I stated in further comments, it's the secular judicial system that I think makes all the difference.

    I have a close friend who was in social work in a very poor, rural midwestern area for several years, and most of the families she dealt with were church-going (but there we go with anecdotal again). She told me about absolutely horrific things that were going on with some of these people. I have to wonder, too, in religious communities if abuse isn't under-reported moreso than in other groups.

    I didn't mean to sound like I was advocating cultural relativism on this topic, but I hope I clarified somewhat in subsequent comments.

  16. I have a semi-on-topic question. And you'll have to take my word that I am asking in all seriousness.

    Here's my assumption:

    When a woman marries taking their husbands last name is a form of submission, although in the grand scheme of things fairly mild.

    Here's are my questions:

    How many of the married women on this blog have taken their husbands last name? Do you agree that it's a form of submission? If so, how is that reconciled with feminism? Did you hyphenate your last name and if so did your husband do it as well and, if not, why not?

  17. Interesting!

    I did not take my husband's last name. I'm not sure if it's a form of submission… I think there is, historically, the whole "women as property" issue attached. And sometimes I really feel sad that lineage is traced solely through men (in the traditional scheme of things), and so the impact on documentation of women's history is HUGE.

    We didn't hyphenate because… well, we both have long last names and it seemed forced. Now that we have a child (she has his name, which I have mixed feelings about) my thoughts on the subject are a little different. Sometimes it's just a pain to have different last names. Sometimes I feel sad that I don't share a last name with my daughter. I know people who have combined names for the children, but it doesn't seem practical.

    I've thought about this a lot, and not really come up with a satisfactory answer/solution. I think that there is something to be said for the "family unit" in terms of sharing a name, and it probably is somewhat anti-feminist that lineage has traditionally been traced solely through the male line in our culture. But, I think documenting geneology/lineage is important in a lot of ways, and I suppose a culture has to come up with some standardized way for it to make sense.

  18. I didn't change my name and if I had a kid, there's no way in hell I would give them their father's surname. If my husband insisted (he's not the type who would), then I would give the child a hyphenated last name — which in our case would also be ungodly long — or let them have the father's surname as their middle name.

  19. Research has shown that there is underreporting in most religious communities, but with underreporting being less of an issue in self identified Catholic and Protestant Christian denominations. Underreporting is much more of an issue with Muslim and Sikh families (where the result of reporting can be your death). However most folk who claim a religion in this country also say they are Christian; so total numbers are higher rather than as a percentage of a certain group. In many communities, especially bible belt and southern poor areas, there is a much higher incidence rate of domestic violence and child abuse within self reporting Christian families. Statistically this has been shown to be a correlation of community identification norms, where nearly everyone would say they are a church going Christian. The biggest and most pervasive risk factor for all forms of abuse, which can be confirmed by multiple national studies (I’d suggest the web site of Jim Hopper PhD at Harvard Medical School http://www.jimhopper.com/abstats/) is poverty. Sex abuse, all forms of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, mental health problems, substance abuse, lower IQ, and all the other dysfunction that leads to or keeps folk poor also put woman and children at risk of harm. Throwing accusations at Christians when they are based on our own experience is often not helpful and usually does not reflect accurately the whole picture. And making broad brush condemning accusations is frequently not indicative of critical (or skeptical) thinking. When it comes to social concerns nearly ALL organizations and institutions addressing the need for social welfare, community hospitals, care for the mentally ill and protection of the vulnerable, were started by or operated and financed by church based and religious institutions well into the twentieth centaury.

    On the good news side of things…, all the educational, governmental and media attention on issues around sex abuse has resulted in significant drops in the known and reported incidents of familial and non family sex abuse. A psychologist friend of mine spends a lot of time training large numbers of pastors and church leaders about how to have responsible practice and policies when responding to child abuse issues. I’ve also seen how churches respond to these issues in their member families and it has improved greatly in the past twenty years. This good news is however is generally exclusive to western democracies. Child abuse, including sex abuse incidents in Muslim countries, is not dropping; because there is no education, no investigating agency, and no community or political will to address these issues. Honor killings and beatings, female genital mutilation and the social circumstance that makes it nearly impossible for an independent or divorced woman to live on her own, and not be dependent on a man for her protection and survival, is the reality in most "Muslim" countries, and is simply not the hallmark of "Christian" communities. So to say that “Christians” are no better than “Muslims” with regard to the treatment of women (and children) appears to be rhetoric born of personal animus, rather than a reasonable assesment of what is really happening.

  20. I did take my husband's last name without putting a lot of thought into it. I guess it could be seen as submission but we don't have that kind of relationship so it is more just a tradition. I quite like the idea of something changing after marriage. I was no longer Monika AA but now Monika BB and it was quite nice. I also wore a white dress but we didn't get married in a church or by a religious figure. So we took the traditions we liked and changed the ones we didn't!

  21. I changed my name after marriage. I don't think it's a form of submission – to me, it's a way to show that you're a family, you're together and you've chosen a path together. But I totally understand women who choose to keep their names – I had a pretty hard time letting go of mine.

    I did actually ask my husband (only vaguely seriously) to take my name but that didn't fly :)

    I ended up making my maiden name another middle name because I didn't want to hyphenate but I wanted to keep my maiden name in there somewhere.

    And don't get me started on my wedding!

  22. I changed my name when I was married. I don't feel that I am submissive to my husband at all. I am currently the breadwinner and my husband has offered to be a stay at home dad if we have children.

    BTW, There was an interesting Frontline tonight on Mormon life. One act profiled women in the Mormon church.

  23. Firstly,

    This book is nearly as sickening as that "Bunny" (what'shername) from Promise Keepers.

    I mean it, I'm physically ill.

    But on to a more pleasant topic…

    There's nothing wrong with keeping your name.

    I've never thought there was anything submissive about changing it either (especially if you don't like it).

    It's a (or I hope it is for all of you) personal choice,

    rod

    P.S. I LIKE the idea of adding of a new middle name though. I never thought of it.

    Rod

  24. I think we are all forgetting two other lies women believe. One of which might be the reason why the architecture, construction, and engineering fields show a lack of women in these professions:

    1. Lies told by their husband: "Yeah honey, this is 6 inches"

    …maybe I shouldn't mention the other one here.

  25. James,

    So, if you control for factors like poverty, education, etc., is there still a higher incidence of abuse in Muslim communities in the U.S.? Would it be fair to say that the stricter, more fundamentalist strains of either Islam or Christianity probably lend themselves more readily to suppression and abuse of women?

    This post started out talking about the suppression of women, not specifically abuse. I think there's probably subtle psychological harm in living such a proscribed life, no matter what religion you are.

  26. writerdd,

    This is not intended to be as aggressive as it's going to come out, so please take this as an attempt at an honest/constructive statement/question.

    You said, "If my husband insisted… then I would give the child a hyphenated last name … or let them have the father’s surname as their middle name."

    I believe the ellipses don't alter the content of the argument much.

    Why only if he insisted would you concede on the name thing? I am a father, and I reject completely the idea that my children are less mine than they are my wife's.

    A disclaimer: we are happily married, she changed her name, but it could have gone the other way., or we could have kept different names. We decided together that we'd go with one name to avoid the kids having a different name from one parent, and in the end it was culturally/socially more of a pain to go with her name. I'm not against it, but practicalism won the day.

    But the idea that she would say "no way in hell" to something that was important to me doesn't fly. We are equal partners, and equal *parents* to the children. Your statement implies you are the more equal parent. Are you of the opinion that a mother's desire trumps a father's?

    Again let me be clear, my wife and I are equals. In fact we mostly go with her desires — when it comes to breaking a tie, I usually concede since she's smarter and thinks thing through more often than I do.

    This post is about arguing on the margins, I am a raging feminist, mostly as an extension of my raging libertarianism. I actually do believe that all people are equally sovereign.

    So there you go, I guess I'm asking you to clarify your position on the primacy of mothers vs. fathers.

    And as for_Lies Women Believe_, the best thing I can say is that even in the face of this review, I am *still* not for book burnings, — but that's the *best* think I have to say about it. It won't cross the threshold of my house, I promise you that.

  27. I don't really think men and women are equal parenting partners, except in some very rare cases. My marriage is probably one of those cases, and perhaps my husband would have even taken on more of the parenting roles than I would, due to our personalities and his experience as the eldest child in a family of 5. But we'll never know since we've decided that we don't want children.

    I still wouldn't give my children my husband's name. Partly because, well, I'm giving birth to them and he's contributing some semen, just to cover the conception, pregnancy, and birthing part of the process of child-rearing. So I would have much more invested in the child from the get-go.

    Also, my family name is dying out in America, so I would want my children to carry it on. My husband has 3 brothers who all have children to carry on their name.

    So, I'm not saying that no woman should give their child their husband's name, but — as I said — there's no way in hell that I would do so.

    There's probably a lot more personal history involved in my decision, but I don't want to bore you with my family history.

  28. writerdd,

    I think your comments are interesting. I used to think much the same way, and I'm finding that so many of my preconceptions have been blown apart by actually being a parent. Yes, the woman conceives, gives birth, and IS the primary parent in many ways in the early days (especially with breastfeeding and whatnot), but then the baby is no longer a baby and becomes a child, parenting can become much more equal. I often say now that my husband does much more parenting than I do. He's more even-tempered, more interested in getting down on the floor and playing with blocks or whatever, and does most of the dropping-off and picking-up from daycare. There are a lot of aspects to child rearing besides just the immediate, physical stuff, and while I totally support non-traditional families of any stripe, the job is so much easier (and, imho, healthier) with multiple caregivers. In a heterosexual couple, it is then very easy for things to go down the road of splitting along gender lines, and so I think as a couple we've tried to be aware of that and monitor the balance over time. Parenting really goes in phases.

    I love my child fiercely, and in some ways that love trumps the love for my spouse, but there are situations where people, couples, families, are caring for children who are not their biological offspring, and I wonder if/how that changes the gender dynamic of caring for the child. Not to mention that if anyone tried to tell my husband that the child is any less his than mine, he'd probably punch them in the nose. Watching the things fatherhood has brought out in him is just amazing.

    And I also think your reasons for keeping your family name are completely justified. I think it's regrettable for a name/family history to die out simply because of a proliferation of female offspring.

  29. flygrrl writes:

    "if anyone tried to tell my husband that the child is any less his than mine, he’d probably punch them in the nose. "

    I feel this way as well.

    "there are situations where people, couples, families, are caring for children who are not their biological offspring, and I wonder if/how that changes the gender dynamic of caring for the child. "

    That's partially the issue I raise. I agree wholeheartedly with you when you talk about the physical demands of parenting seeming so monumental before becoming a parent. After you become a parent, those things become the smallest portion of the effort, love and commitment of the effort.

    If my wife and I had adopted, I would love those children no less, and I wouldn't dare tell an adoptive mother she is less a mother, or can't claim the same commitment as my wife because she was never pregnant.

    Nothing about my commitment to my children is related to how much I've physically sacrificed for them. Mostly because my wife's and my commitment to them is total. There is quite literally no limit to what I would sacrifice for them. That I didn't do one type of sacrifice at one time in their lives isn't an issue.

  30. Jen wrote:

    Several years ago, I was lucky enough to have teaching my required religion course a young, intelligent, female professor who, even though she was herself came from a very Christian tradition, recognized inconsistencies with feminism, and was willing to discuss them.

    I happened to stumble upon Mona Lisa Smile on TV yesterday. a movie about a progressive art teacher at some fancy prep college in the 1950s.
    One quote from that movie which seems very apt to this discussion. At some point, the teacher has received some flak for talking with her female students, and putting un-lady-like ideas in their heads about their roles as women. She says to one of her male colleagues:

    I thought that I was headed to a place that would turn out tomorrow’s leaders, not their wives.

    That pretty much summed it all up.

    Anyway, as far as last names for children goes, if a wife has decided to take the husbands name, there’s really no reason to have the children take a different last name.
    But in the case where a woman has kept her own name, I’d say the fairest thing to do is flip a coin.

  31. Having just found this blog, I'm reading back entries. I guess it's a bit late but I'll weigh in here with my data point anyway: when my husband and I got married, he took my last name and I kept mine the same.

    Our reasoning: I didn't want to change mine (the idea did bother the feminist in me) and he said he was okay with changing his. We did want to have the same last name so that we could both have the same name as any future children; now that we do have a baby, he has the same last name as both of us, which is my birth name.

    Ironically, a few years after we got married we moved to Quebec, where nobody (not even the women) is supposed to change their surname. Much bureaucratic confusion has ensued!

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