Monday, March 26, 2012

Wedding Gowns and Bridal Shows

I think Ben and I are in a minority group, a group that is dwindling and dying no thanks to society’s lax views on purity and marriage. Earlier in January I went to David’s Bridal with my parents and a few bridesmaids to pick out my wedding dress. Tradition holds that the wedding dress is white to symbolize the bride’s purity. I’m not sure how many people actually think about that when picking out a gown…I didn’t really either…but it’s still a really cool tradition that I wish more people did think about. I’m signed up with this website called “The Knot,” and every few weeks they send out a newsletter, oftentimes with a list of wedding dos and don’ts. Last week’s letter came with a list of 12 Worst Pieces of Wedding Advice, and the first one was about the color of the dress. Someone said: “My grandmother told me that I must wear a white dress or else people will start thinking that I'm not a virgin. I'm a 30-year-old bride who has been living with my fiance for six years.[1] To this “The Knot” replied: “this "rule" is completely antiquated. In fact, there are probably quite a few engaged virgins out there who will choose to wear ivory (gasp!) on their wedding day. Wear whichever color you love that looks best with your skin tone. In fact, white works best on darker skin tones, and ivory shades flatter lighter skin.” So, not a huge deal, but it did make me kind of sad that the website thought the white dress rule, the rule concerning purity, is “antiquated;” old fashioned, in the past, obsolete. No one cares about that rule anymore. Wear whatever color makes your skin look best. No one’s really a virgin on their wedding day anymore anyway.

In March Ben and I went to a Bridal Show. Yup, we both went. And we both enjoyed it. There were actually quite a few couples that came…Bridal Shows aren’t just for the ladies! Anyway, right when we walked in we came to a table to get registered for the big cash prize. To register, we were given the choice to either fill out a “nice” questionnaire or a “naughty” questionnaire. Maybe Ben and I are just really na├»ve or maybe we just didn’t think the questions would be as naughty as they were…but we innocently said “we’ll do the naughty one.” After all, the naughty one gets your name put in three times, the nice one only gets your name put in once. I took one look at the first question though and changed my mind. I won’t go into details, but I was horrified. Ben valiantly tried to fill his out, but we couldn’t answer one question honestly on that sheet. We gave up and filled out the nice one, and we laughed and shook our heads as we left that table. The people running the Bridal Show pretty much assume that most couples are not virgins and they are probably living together. And that makes me sad. We got a call a few days later about something we won…that we aren’t actually sure is legit…but we had to go back to the hotel we won it at and meet with the company giving it away. There was one other couple receiving the prize too, and when the man asked us if we were living together, the other couple boldly and proudly said no. Ben and I smiled…it seems rare these days to meet other couples who hold the same values as we do. We wouldn’t have judged them if they said yes, but it was nice to meet them and see their values line up with ours.  

It’s frustrating to see Christian values stomped on, but after meeting that couple I was reassured that Ben and I are not alone. We live in a world that tells us married people don’t have as much fun, they are limited to a sexual experience with only one person…and what fun is that? There are even websites out there encouraging people to have affairs. They’ll help you meet other married people to have an affair with! Their motto is “Life is short…have an affair!” So sick. We want to live for today, have as much fun as possible. But if you do a little digging, you’ll find that married couples are happier and much better off than people who jump around from relationship to relationship, giving up themselves over and over again to different people. Here’s a good website to check out if you don’t believe me: http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/in-defense-of-marriage-the-unique-benefits-of-traditional-marriage-11580289.html  

It’s not my place to judge those who don’t hold the same beliefs as I do, and I am a firm believer in sexual healing. Just because you messed up doesn’t mean you can’t one day enjoy the benefits of a healthy, marriage relationship. Here’s one more link if you haven’t had enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlJFvxad1_A

So, take heart, members of the dwindling minority group. There are others out there who still hold fast to what the Bible teaches. And there is healing for those who may have fallen out of step.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My thoughts on Women's History Month and traditional gender roles

Some of you may know that March is Women’s History Month. I just found out today at chapel, and it definitely got me thinking. In some ways it’s a little offending that women have to have a special month to be recognized as part of history. When is Men’s History month? There isn’t one! Strange? I think so. In my mind history includes all people groups: men, women, whites, blacks, Native Americans, all age groups, and all belief systems. They’re all a part of history and we should recognize them altogether. But, our society feels the need to separate these groups, so we have Women’s History month.
Because we women have a special month all about our history, it makes me feel that perhaps society doesn’t think our contributions were significant enough. Like I was saying, there isn’t a men’s history month…we don’t question whether or not men’s contributions were significant. So this is where a lot of women get all riled up, and feminism comes into play big time. And I am NOT a fan of feminism, at all. I’ve seen women take great offense when a man opens a door for her or offers to help her carry something heavy. The look of shock on those men’s faces is disheartening to me. Women constantly complain that men are mistreating them, yet when they try to care for women they get the door slammed in their face. What’s a man to do? Feminism makes it very hard for men to follow the Lord’s commands to care for, respect, and love women. I think women need to make up their minds here! Are we going to be angry that men often mistreat us, or are going to take offense when they try and care for us? 

Now, I’m all for individuality and women taking care of themselves, but there are plenty of men out there who want to take care of them too. And I don’t think opening a door is saying, “I think you’re the weaker sex so I need to do everything for you.” I think it is a kind gesture, an act of respect. And who doesn’t like being respected? So I just really wish women would make up their minds and help our brothers out!

Women’s History Month has also gotten me thinking about traditional gender roles. In my house, my mom did the laundry and most of the cleaning. My dad helped cook and did dishes. My mom sewed, did most of the comforting and patching up when we were hurt, and she did most of the household shopping. My dad took care of the yard and garden when we planted one, and spent Saturday’s pulling weeds in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter. I’d say my family was pretty traditional in following society’s gender roles, but not always. My dad did more cooking and dishes than most fathers probably do. And my mom enjoyed mowing the lawn and pulling weeds as well. While they generally stuck to the roles society said they should fill, they were okay breaking those “rules” once in a while. I imagine that’s how it will be in my household. I know Ben is capable of scrubbing bathtubs and doing laundry, but I feel I do it better! What’s the old saying…? If you want something done right you have to do it yourself? I’d have no problem asking Ben to throw in a load of laundry or to clean the bathroom…but in all honesty I’d rather do it myself because then I know it will get done the way I want it too. And just like my mom, I probably won’t have a problem mowing the lawn or shoveling once in a while, but I’d rather Ben does it. He’s stronger. I know I could do it just fine, but Ben could probably do it faster and more efficiently. That’s just the way it is, and I’m fine with it.

So it really bothers me when people get so angry about our “roles.” Men and women are perfectly capable of performing the other sex’s duties, but is it a bad thing when we stick to them? I’m not going to yell at Ben when he doesn’t do his own laundry…at least I hope I won’t! I know I have a better idea of what clothes together, what temperature to wash them at, and I am certainly better at folding clothes than he is! I’ve seen his folding jobs…it is not pretty, people. Not pretty. I simply do it better, so I will do most of the laundry. I am useless with tools and will never be able to fix a leaky pipe or decide what is causing the dishwasher or washer and dryer to not work. I just can’t do it. So I will expect Ben to be able to take care of our home and yard because I can’t do it. Just because Ben will do the more manual labors in the home doesn’t make him the stronger sex. He’s just better at it! And we’ll hopefully be sharing some duties, too. We’re excited to learn to actually cook together, and dishes will be a shared job. We both ate off those plates, why should one person be responsible for the mess? It will probably be trial and error with some tasks. It will take us a while to find a comfortable rhythm.

I will never believe that Ben “rules” over me or that he is the boss. I do believe that men are called to be spiritual leaders for their families, and that is what I expect from him, and he knows this. Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” He never says he created man above women, to be their rulers. This comes of course after the fall. But again I don’t believe this gives Ben the right to rule over me and make all the decisions. We’ll work together and make decisions as a team. I believe that Ben is to “live with his wife in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…” (1 Peter 3:7). And in a certain way, as the Bible teaches, I will “submit to my own husband, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior.” (Ephesians 5:22). Above all, I believe that husbands should love their wives, and wives should respect their husbands. That’s how God created us to live and treat each other.

But don’t think I won’t be reminding Ben of this important verse:

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper just right for him.”

He needs me. Teehee. I’m not ever going to let him forget this. J