The following comment was made on my Facebook post where I shared last week’s blog entry. I felt the commenter’s thought (and my response) a worthwhile addition to the original post. But, as I continued to write, I began to realize that I needed more than just a few lines to respond, and therefore it might be more worthwhile to offer my thoughts as a separate post. Please know this commenter is a personal friend of mine, and I value the thoughtful responses of all my friends. His comment challenged me to clarify my thoughts in some areas, and expound my position in others, and I am grateful that he (and you) took the time to read.
Commenter: ” ‘It is almost as if she is suggesting that men are without sinful nature’ I read the original and didn’t get that vibe at all from her post. Her blog was from her POV. She didn’t go into her husbands challenges or process of change. May be because that story wasn’t hers to tell. “almost as if” is a pretty big assumption.
Of course there are a lot of assumptions in her post that are overly vague and broad such as …. the premise… that men don’t want to marry women in debt. If that is the deal-no-deal breaking point of a relationship, then cut that dude free and find someone else. And then each paragraph is filled with other assumptions, possibly not as equally broad.
But lest we forget…. this is just a blog everyone is getting up in arms about. One person’s blatherings online. Yes it looks like she is short on grace to other women that haven’t lived her version of an ideal life. Ignore it then. It isn’t building you up, edifying, instructing, or helping you to think on what is good and righteous, so toss it with the rest of the blog garbage.”
My response: Thank you friend, for your response — It actually flushes out a spot or two that I may have glossed over too lightly and should have given more comment about. Please allow me to elaborate.
Yes, you are right; the weight of burden–even condemnation–I feel is evident in Lori Alexander’s writings may not be as outright in this specific post, as in others. My conclusion is based more on the overall tone and theme that is communicated through her blog — something I could have been clearer about. If you take time to read some of her other posts, or to peruse her public facebook page, I feel this is even more evident. Point in fact, I don’t see a problem with any person preferring not to enter into marriage with debt, though I would hope that consideration over student loans (or other debt, or tattoos for that matter) wouldn’t be foremost. I think other factors are more crucial.
What is problematic in this specific post isn’t the preference to live debt-free, but the shaming and condemnation of women who pursue higher education. The post, in my opinion, actually vilifies women who would attempt to better themselves in this way. Not only do such women (usually) incur student-debt, they also learn “to be independent, loud, sexually available, and immodest instead of having meek and quiet spirits” according to the author. I must have gone to the wrong college, I never had a chance to take any electives on loudness, sexual promiscuity, or immodesty. In fact, the Christian university where I received the first two years of my education (co-incidentally where I amassed the largest portion of my undergraduate student debt) went to great lengths to create a culture strictly counter to these values. She makes no mention of other types of consumer debt — and if that were actually the point of her post, I would think she would have something to say about poor spending habits, credit card usage or possibly even the value of getting an education without incurring student loans.
Of course, Mrs. Alexander is free to write whatever she likes on her blog–that is by nature how blogs work. I would suggest, however, that if her intention is to edify younger women in a way that will help them have better marriages, it isn’t a violation of her husband’s privacy to mention that they worked on their marriage together. She needn’t get into any specifics of what her husband did/did not do, if she is trying to be considerate of his privacy. The edifying thing would be to say that young couples need to work together, in submission to God, for the good of their marriage. If she goes on to say that she only feels led to speak to the wife’s role in that process, well, fine. Rather, she makes a point of saying (in multiple posts) that it is the [sole] responsibility of the wife to address a challenging marriage — because if the marriage has conflict, the source of that conflict is a wife that had not learned how to be properly quiet and submissive to her husband. (Let me also mention, my comment ‘It is almost as if she is suggesting that men are without sinful nature’ is a inference, not an assumption; the difference is noteworthy, even when hyperbolic.)
Finally, you suggest that if one comes across a post that isn’t edifying then to simply move on, and to a large degree, I agree with you. There are millions of trolls all over the internet and to try to address even 1% of the banal things that have been posted/commented would be a massive exercise in futility. Psychologically, one might even argue, it is a form of self-harm.
However, from time to time a person does come into contact with something that they feel needs to be addressed. The media we interact with can have a formative effect on our thoughts, and even our lives. Lori Alexander has over 21,000 followers on facebook alone. Whether one considers this a large or small number (and undoubtedly not all of her followers agree with her point of view), it is probable that she has some kind of influence — especially when a post goes viral. Just a simple search shows the dozens (perhaps hundreds by now?) of responses to her post from people who do not identify as Christian, expressing revulsion to kind of Christianity Mrs. Alexander represents.
I think it is reasonable to say that the concern that I and other Christian bloggers have over such things going viral, is how counter-gospel we find them to be. In a context that is rapidly becoming ever more post-Christian, there simply are times when we should speak up and say, ‘No, this is not the Jesus I know and follow.’ To me, the posts on thetransformedwife.com oozes condemnation–thus my exploration of the difference between condemnation and conviction. For those of us who feel led to add our little voices to the cacophony of the internet, there is also the call to exert whatever influence we might be capable of.
If even one person who was hurt by her original post is ministered to by my response or the others I linked to, then I count it as a victory. If even one woman who was condemned by Lori’s words find hope or encouragement through any of these responses, then it is a victory.