I've noticed an unnerving trend. It seems that many of the cultural and theological positions from fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant cultures are seeping into the more conservative Catholic circles. Many of the "hot topics" on Catholic blogs (such as veiling, skirts vs. pants, homeschooling, wifely submission, purity rings, etc) are just borrowed from fundies. For as long as I can remember, certain Protestant women have been homeschooling their large families while wearing ankle-length denim skirts, never cutting their hair, frequenting health food stores, and having babies at home. (One movie says that "health food stores are where the lives of fundamentalists and liberal hippies intersect.") The extreme end of the spectrum are the folks who do "home church" (because they can't find a church that's pure enough for them) and who keep their daughters at home instead of letting them go to college.
Obviously, Catholics won't be having church at home; there's that pesky Mass obligation, and the entire idea of Catholicism centers around the altar, not the home. And yet, I see more and more Catholic bloggers talking like fundy Protestants. Ironically, the more "traditional" Catholics are more likely to look like Protestants.
I'm honestly baffled by this. For someone who breathes a sigh of relief every morning because I'm not in that subculture anymore, I can't imagine why someone would willingly put themselves there - especially a Catholic. When you've got the intellectual backdrop of Augustine, Aquinas, Francis de Sales, Theresa de Avila, John Henry Newman, et all, why would you need the advice of folks like the Pearls, Voddie Baucham, Eric and Leslie Ludy, and Joshua Harris?
Because let's be clear. That whole "emotional purity," parent-lead courtship, "you are your virginity," cups filled with spit image of sexuality? Not Catholic. Eschewing vaccines? Not Catholic. "Full time head-covering" and measuring one's virtue by the length of one's skirt? Not Catholic. Proudly proclaiming that you've never worked outside the home and wanting the same for your daughters? Not Catholic.
But nothing scares me more than the adoption of "wifely submission." Even the old-time Catholics don't come close to the paralysis that defines fundamentalist womanhood. The conservative Protestant image of a woman is much closer to Victorianism than Christianity, and it leads to toxic places. If you've never seen the video of John Piper's talk on women with abusive husbands, this should be eye-opening. Catholics, this is where "submission" leads: to silent acquiescence of abuse. Men, be on guard: this thought process leads to a weak version of "manhood" that can't tolerate a strong, healthy wife. In Piper's mind, the central issue of domestic violence is the woman's "crisis of submission," not her safety, and she might even need to endure being smacked around for a night as long as it's "not causing her to sin."
(Note: this man is well-regarded in certain circles. Growing up as a Calvinist, he was one of our hallowed authors along with R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Elizabeth Elliot, Francis Schaeffer and JI Packer. My respect for him evaporated after watching this video, but sadly he is still highly influential).