“…you wives, be in subjection to your husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives.”—1 Peter 3:1 New World Translation.
This is the guidance I heard from literally every elder I spoke with about my terrible marriage. Helpful? Not so much.
Obedience to Scripture—Does it Work?
Believing I would be blessed for my obedience, I was as subservient as any human could be to my sex-, alcohol-, and drug-addicted husband. But I can tell you from experience that obedience to scripture does not work. The only thing my “subjection” accomplished was to continue to enable his addictions by him not addressing his issues at all. He saw no need. In fact, in that past marriage I was the one with the label of “sick one” in our family, because I bent over backwards to the point of depression. Strangely enough, I believed the patriarchal malarkey spewed by the ignorant, untrained, and uneducated elders. Oddly, they wished to control every detail of the lives of members.
Experts at Patriarchal Control
You see, the elders were considered by all in the congregation to be the “experts” on my well-being, even though quite frankly, they barely knew me. They knew nothing about co-dependence in relationships, and even less about addictions or mental health. They had absolutely no training in those areas. Yet, while exercising complete patriarchal control, elders’ continual advice to me was:
- “Be a better wife”
- “Read your Bible more”
- “Be a regular attendee of five weekly meetings”
- “Go in field service more” (‘door-to-door’)
- “Render your sexual due”
- “Win him without a word”
To the elders’ ways of thinking, his vices had nothing to do with him choosing a stagnant life — with no intention to grow emotionally. Apparently, his addictions were about my failure to be a good enough wife. My one job was to “fix him.” And the bible had all the answers for me. I just had to read it and apply it to my life. It was so simple. Why couldn’t I just succeed at my one menial task?
Elders Blame Marriage Breakdown on Me
The elders, having no training in recognizing or counseling dysfunctional relationships could not see that their advice was detrimental to me. Perhaps their advice even compounded my then-husband’s addiction issues. Blaming me for the marriage breakdown was nonsense. In retrospect, I see that now, years after the fact, and after much intense therapy. Therein is my reason for saying the Bible is a book that supports ancient patriarchal societies and is irrelevant counsel in today’s world. After years of the same answers yielding the same poor results, I was losing faith. Now, I see that the Bible is a book that teaches, condones, and enables patriarchal control over congregation life, family life, and individual members. This is seen in how often elders will reach for their bibles and cherry pick scriptures to support their twisted personal viewpoints of how family life “should” look.
Patriarchal Control—Epic Fail
I believe patriarchal societies will soon be a thing of the past. They must!
Unless we’re going backwards, of course!
As humanity comes into balance, I trust women will awaken to the ill will held against them by religious leaders. Women besides me will break free to become self-sovereign, self-empowered, and independent beings apart from religion. Perhaps women will lead the charge in helping their men understand the need to let go of the high-control currently used by religion. I think it’s up to us, ladies!
I have learned it is completely unnecessary for women to consult ignorant men with the title of “elder” spewing Bible texts from a by-gone time. Their guidance was ineffective for my life. On the other hand, I have discovered that therapeutic insights, common sense, intuition, and self-trust is all that is required to heal from enslavement to high-control patriarchal belief systems.
I’m even happier to see that many women are now calling Watchtower — Jehovah’s Witnesses’ corporate entity — to account for all their bad policies that disrespect and destroy family life.
The Sick One I go into detail about the demise of my marriage and my journey to improved well-being.
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