Saturday, March 22, 2008

Privacy and judgment

One commenter on Amy's Humble Musings linked to a couple of essays by Laine, one about busybodies who presumed selfishness and sinfulness on the part of moms with small families:

I know personally of two Christian women who were crushed by the words of other well-meaning Christian women. Why were they crushed? Because these well-meaning Christian women were telling them that they should have as many children as God wanted them to have and that they and their husband were sinning if they did otherwise. Did these advisers take into account their friend's submission to their "own" husband? No. Did they take into account their friend's health and their husband's concern about it? No. Did they take into account that perhaps their friend could not have any more children? No. They just stated their beliefs and let the pain and guilt fall where it may....

But who am I to tell another woman how many children that means for her and her husband? How do I know what is going on in their marriage? How do I know how many grandchildren God might give them? Is it not a private matter between the two of them and God? His body is her body. Her body is his body. They are one. I am not a part of their union, and I have no business prying and asking questions, nor giving advice when I am not asked. Likewise someone to me. I am to submit to my own husband, and she is to submit to her own husband.

I have known women who have pried and advised because there was just too much talking going on and things not proper to mention got mentioned. Rather than bringing peace to their friend's marriage, they brought discord between the husband and wife because of the wife's new insistence that they must now have more children. Why? Because, without perhaps fully realizing it, her friend now felt her holiness depended upon it.

In follow-up letter, Laine explains that it isn't wrong to seek advice or comfort, but women should take care not to disclose information in response to prying questions, information that ought to be kept private between a husband and wife.

What I find private is when someone is trying to find out what is going on between a husband and wife concerning her womb; especially if the question is stated in such a slant to suggest that she is less than holy if she is not having as many children as the woman asking thinks she should. Some questions can be very probing or slightly prying while they "invite" the woman to share something she probably should not. What should she not share?

I believe a woman should not share that her husband has a low sperm count and things of this nature. Even though she may feel the need to "defend" herself to strong questions by strong women, I do not believe that this is something a husband would like his wife to say if she was standing next to him. It is something that should be kept private between them.

I know others might disagree with me, but I do not believe a woman should share if her husband has had a vasectomy. Again, I think this is something of a very private nature. Just as whether a man is circumcised or not. We surely wouldn't pass that information around over tea. So why should we talk about this as well? Many husbands and wives are changing their minds about these decisions and their husbands are going in for reversals. May God bless them so! But the trouble is everyone knows their business. There is nothing private anymore.

I have also known women who have had other Christian women come down on them because they had their tubes tied or were practicing birth control. How could they know unless they were told about it? Before you know it, they are defending their actions and their husband's decision, when nothing needed have been said in the first place. Why? Because it was a private matter between both spouses.

A commenter on one of my earlier posts chided me for publicly airing things that ought to be private between me and my wife. I've taken great care to avoid saying anything that would identify us -- no geographical references, no specifics about ages of children or our own ages. I chose to blog about this anonymously so that I could seek advice and think through this issue without subjecting my wife or myself to judgment and criticism that we might have received had we raised the issue with friends and family.

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