Thursday, March 27, 2008

IFB Survivor Syndrome

“Should we start a support group?”

This is what I asked my friend the other day. We’d started e-mailing about something completely mundane, and somehow the topic came up.

As you all know – surely, you MUST know by now – I was raised in a very conservative environment. Not necessarily by my parents, who were very balanced individuals. My conservative environment existed more in my school and church surroundings.

As you also must know, for the most part, I cast aside the extreme conservativeness, the legalism, after high school, and really took my time discovering what I believed and WHY while I was in college.

It wasn’t until I started reconnecting with people from my past, old friends, that I discovered I was not the only one who remembered the craziness of culottes, KJV-only baloney, and the weaker vessel schmessel. (okay, I made “schmessel” up)

Anyway, apparently, there are several of us (many of us, I hope) who managed to escape with our brains and Christianity intact. In fact, many of the kids who grew up like I did, emerged victorious over the oppressive legalism machine.

Not all of us however. There are many rebels, and many who are still lost in the maze of rules and regulations.

At church, I met a friend with a VERY similar upbringing, and ever since we discovered the bond, we’ve enjoyed remembering what it was like"back then." It’s sort of like surviving a natural disaster – looking back, a lot of memories take on a rosy glow, even though it was horrible during the actual experience.

Anyway, it was from her I learned the term “IFB” which (many of you will know) means Independent Fundamental Baptist. I’d never actually put the initials together before, since our church (the legalistic one) proclaimed to be an “Independent Fundamental Bible-Believin’ Baptist Church.”

I guess, IFBBBC, isn’t quite as catchy. Sounds like a European TV station.

Anyway, as sister IFB Survivors, we were able to relate on a deeper level, despite being raised in completely separate areas of the county. It’s sort of amazing to me. I feel like she went to school and church with me, and yet…she didn’t. But it’s like she was THERE experiencing all the things I did.

Anyway, one day we were e-mailing fast and furious to one another with one IFB-related quip after another, and I asked her, “Do we need to start an IFB Survivor Support Group? I mean, just imagine how many of us are out there!”

She responded honestly that a lot of the sarcasm and cynicism we two harbor about the bad ‘ol days would probably leave us very biased, negative, and probably not very Christ-like.

I admired her for being honest. But, I have to say, I’m (as you know) insatiably curious about how many of us “IFB Survivors” out there.

Some of you will say, “Well, I went to Christian school or a Baptist church, but I was actually pretty happy. How do I know if I am an IFB Survivor?”

Well, THIS is a problem! We’ve got to comprise a test to help IFB Survivors identify themselves.

This is where I need your help. What do you remember about growing up IFB?

If you need an example, Heidi has several earmarks of IFB Survivor Syndrome on her blog.

Bonus points to anyone who uses the words culottes, revival, movies, sleep skirts, or submission!


Heidi said...

I can use all those in one sentence. ha ha.
However, I am not sure what sleep skirts are, I will have to have someone remind me.

WendyJanelle said...

You both should read Philip Yancey!! Read Soul's all about how he almost lost his faith in the upbringing of a legalistic environment!! A lot of Christians don't like it (duh, the IFBs), but I love it!

WendyJanelle said...

And, uhh...after receiving some anger about one of my blog posts, I think I'll stay close to your blog and not wander... thanks, though. Tempting.

Martha said...

I read all your bully posts last night and I just cried after I read them all. I just want you to know I am rooting for you!

Alice said...

This cracks me up. I can't really relate, but it cracks me up. Just the word "culottes" brings to mind "crepe-soled shoes." And what in the world is a sleep skirt??? Ya'll need to help me out here.

Ann-Marie said...

The sleep skirt is a conservative fashion designed for those women who want to be close to God even while unconscious.

Since those pesky flannel nightgowns can sometimes be too short or too drafty for cold Midwestern winters, a sleep skirt is made out of fleece material down to the floor. It is designed to wrap your legs in softness without having to resort to the abomination of wearing *gasp* PANTS to bed!

Because, just like Santa, God sees you while you're sleeping.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the definition of sleep skirt. That is soo funny!

Heidi said...

The sleep skirt was never an issue. I do remember hearing that at HAC the girls were not able to wear pants to bed and I thought that was the strangest thing ever. Keep in mind that Dr. Jack visited the girls dorms to read to them and give them treats. Odd, odd.

Ann-Marie said...

Well, now that doesn't sound creepy at all. (sarcasm)


On the list of men I want bringing me treats, Dr. Jack is not #1.

Ann-Marie said...

Did Dr. Jack think girls didn't know how to read for themselves?

I wonder what the entrance exam to get into that college consisted of - how much legalism can you stand?

Heidi said...

One of my friends told me that I should go there because of the attention that Dr. Jack gave the girls. I look back and think it is creepy knowing about his supposed rendezvous with his secretary.

The Beard Bunch said...

Wow, Ann-Marie, you are a lady on a mission (or something)!?!?!?!? I have not checked in for awhile, but I noticed that you have been posting like crazy. Congrats to you on the cleaning of your house. By the way, you can clean AND watch TV!

Now, let me add a few IFB ideas to your list and Heidi's also.

1)You shouldn't get your ears pierced because God did not put holes in our ears (He did not put clothes on us, either, but....)

2)If there are any drums involved, then it is an abomination. Same thing for a guitar (unless you are around a campfire).

3)Thou shalt not hold hands with anyone ever!

4)People who wear pants to church should not be in church.

5)Only be friends with people who are as godly or more godly than you. Don't let anyone see you with a "backslider" or a heathen.

6)Did you go door-knocking??? That way you can be a witness but not get too close to the people.

Ok, I am going to stop now. I think I feel myself starting to get worked up. :)

I am not bitter about being in a Fundamental circle. I think the intent was always to keep us from sin. However, it has been refreshing to me to be able to get out of that arena and realize that God is more mighty and powerful when I live in the world and interact with the unsaved daily.

WendyJanelle said...

Sheesh!! I did not grow up in a legalistic church. It's sad that there are still so many pharisees out there. Brings to mind Matthew 15: 8 "These people honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me.
9 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God."

a joyful nusiance said...

Hi Ann-Marie!

The sad part is is that they really beleive they are doing what is right.

It doesn't anger me anymore, it just saddens me.

mom2mine said...

if you do start a support group... i want to be a charter member

Ann-Marie said...

I was hoping you'd sign up as a Co-Founder, actually.

"Hello, my name is _____, and I survived an IFB."

Heidi - I'm nominating you for President and CEO!

Joyce Zweedyk said...

My husband and I have been members of an IFB from 1995 until this last year. We left after our pastor tried covering up the bookkeeper (who was the head deacon's daughter) stealing somewhere from $40,000 to $75,000 from the church. Well, actually she stole it from all the members. At the end of that Wednesday night service when we were all told about this, we were also told that we were NOT to talk amongst ourselves about this or to outsiders about this.
Well, before I met my husband, I was a single Mom for 6 years so I don't fall into the "typical IFB woman" mold. We both looked at each other and our eyes got as big as saucers! My husband was the volunteer janitor at our church; ironically, we realized after we left the church budget still included a budget of $8,000 for a janitor even though they weren't paying a janitor! We met with Pastor several times to voice our objections to the not prosecuting this woman, why Pastor hired her -- because there were 2 previous businesses that let her go because money came up missing -- they couldn't prove she stole it, but they didn't have a problem after she left.
During all this stuff, the mind games! Oh MY WORD! I finally realized later and told my husband that Pastor prostituted his wife out! He had his poor wife doing almost everything but kissing my husband's toes! The notes on the vacuum on how they just don't know how they could do it without all his hard work and how they never had to worry about the church not looking perfect for service and how amazing he was and etc.! Basically, the Pastor was having his wife throw herself on my husband!
Pastor even implied that my husband had painted the gym floor over a weekend, but my husband had told him he couldn't because we had commitments out of town that weekend (we had already decided to leave the church at this point). Prior to deciding to leave, we had met with Pastor several times and read detailed letters of why we were so upset. When we got done reading our letters, Pastor said, "You had your turn, now it's mine..." and proceeding to Edipline my husband right in front of me -- ediplining, if you are not familiar with that term is when the pastor edifies you and disciplines in you in the same breath! About 2 weeks later, we were driving down the road, and I looked over to my husband who was sitting in the passenger seat and said to him, "You got ediplined!" He then realized it, too!
We also found out that Pastor allowed a home (he used to have an adult foster home) to go into foreclosure and continued to preach in the pulpit and said he was "above reproach." He actually at one point told the congregation that "this is not a democracy, you don't have the right to vote on everything." The fact is -- we only voted on 3 things -- voting in deacons, voting in new members, and approving whatever he budgeted. Business meetings never went longer than 3 minutes, and he didn't take new business at business meetings because no one had time to pray on it.
I am a 3-year cancer breast cancer survivor so at the last couple's retreat that we went to, Pastor primed the guest preacher because he and his wife road 1 hour in the car to the retreat location, and we are sure that Pastor told them how disgruntled we were because Pastor S's wife who was also fighting cancer was always available to talk to me. In fact, it felt like Pastor met with every other couple (of course all the other couples WERE staff except for one other couple and the guest speaker and his wife!) and told them to not say anything negative to us or something because NO ONE actually said anything to us the entire retreat! Everyone treated us like we had cooties! The ONLY people who talked to us was the Pastor and his wife and the guest pastor and his wife! The guest Pastor said (it's recorded), "If you have a non-tither in your church that could be the reason why someone gets cancer."

Jordain Tower said...

Leave room for Jesus. You can't even hold hands unless you're married.

Once you turn 3, you sit in the adult services. If you make a noise you're taken out, beaten and brought back in. Repeat.

A few bruises on the backside never hurt anyone.

Pants on women is rebellious.

Girls playing sports= coullotes

You were convinced if you switched churches that you were out of God's will.

You were criticized, ridiculed and shunned if you left the church. Even if you were simply going to a new one.

Wives must submit no matter what. If he beats you, well, you still have to respect him.

If you commit a public sin you must stand before the church, confess, apologize and then stand in silence for 60 seconds while making eye contact with the congregation. But the pastor and deacons get to pick which sins deserve this punishment.

You were molested? Then you shouldn't have been dressed like that. And you shouldn't have gone there.

Women in "provacatice" clothing is a sin but the men who lust after them are pardoned because they were being tempted.

One piercing for girls in each ear.

If there's 10 feet of snow and ice, you better get to church or your backsliden. Everyone knows Jesus takes attendance....

You plan your vacation around church events and services and you also ask permission before you leave.

3 services per week is the minimum requirements.

Women are not to work out of the home.

You must attend and uncredited bible college. Secular colleges are worldly and not God's will for his children.

Women must keep silent in the church.

You witnessed someone getting beat? Getting molested? Viewing child pornography? You can't report it because we don't want to make the church look bad.

Psychologists speak lies from Satan. Mental illness is caused by sin and can only be cured by getting right with God.

Tent revivals in extreme heat and cold. Elders and young children are still expected to attend. No excuses.

You have strep? Still gotta go to church.

If you're not involved on the bus route, nursery, children's church, bible school, choir, greeting, ushering, tract team AND coming breakfast for 100 men every Sunday morning at 5am then you aren't involved enough.

Summer camp. 1000 degrees. Girls wear tshirts and coullotes or below the knee length dresses. Guys wear pants, not shorts. Neither party can wear tank tops.

No mixed swimming. Girls wear t-shirts and coullotes..... Yes to swim in.

No Christian rock, rock, country, pop or anything you don't get directly from the church.

That church has drums? They're heading straight to hell.

He's gay? Get thee behind me Satan.

You weren't allowed to hang out with anyone outside of church because they were a bad example. If your aunts, uncles, grandparents didn't go to the same church, you weren't allowed to have a relationship with them.

You're struggling with suicidal thoughts? Depression? Suck it up. Bury it.

Unknown said...

I would like to find a group. I’ve been out 10 years and still struggle to integrate myself into the real world. I’m raising three kids on my own and I’m alone. I thought I would find someone but I have a hard time connecting normally. At least I can be proud knowing I saved my kids from this horrible life. I mean I was hopeful but now I’m 38 and I never found what I hoped for. I want to live more yet don’t always know how. It’s incredibly hard for people to “get” me