Tough Cases in Family Therapy

Three case studies are presented as examples of the complex problems married clients bring to the therapist. [These clients have approved the use of their real names because they are exhibitionists.]

Case History 1.
Jacob and Leah sit side by side on a couch. To the experienced eye the couple’s body language reveals tension and stress. Jacob gazes into the distance while Leah shrinks into the cushions. Rebecca, Jacob’s other wife, squats on the floor. Rebecca is rending her garment, one thread at a time. The steady plinking noise punctuates the session. It’s very irritating.
The handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah are outside in the parking lot watching the kids.

Leah to Jacob—“I know you never really loved me. You resent it that my father tricked you into marrying me? Well how do you think I feel? I was fruitful and bore you sons and Rebecca couldn’t stand it. She gave you her maidservant to lie with. That’s cheating.”
Rebecca to Leah— “You should talk about cheating. You found a mandrake root and wouldn’t give me any unless I sent Jacob to lie in your tent. I think you were on mandrake all along.”
Leah to Rebecca— “I had to give Jacob my maidservant to lie with to get even with you. Now I hardly ever see him. Why couldn’t you just accept that you’re barren?”
Jacob to Wives— “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Case History 2.

Tamar has occupied an armchair on one side of the room. Her expression is aggrieved and defiant. Judah sits as far away as possible, his expression unreadable because he has veiled his face. He is wearing dozens of small protective amulets that rattle when he moves.

Tamar– “Every day I ask G–d why I was forced to marry into this family. It’s not my fault that Judah’s son, my first husband Er, got smote. And Onan– he was even worse. I still have a burn mark from when the lightning struck. And don’t even ask about PTSD–I was right next to him in bed. I know they were your sons, Judah, but fair’s fair. I should have been married to the youngest when he grew up. Instead you would have left me at my father’s house to wear widow’s weeds until menopause. If I hadn’t dressed up like a prostitute and stopped you on the way to sheep shearing I’d be childless today.
I want a brother or sister for your twins. How come you shun my tent? I think it was pretty generous of me to overlook the fact that you tried to have me burned to death.”

Judah–“Wife, let me put this in terms you can understand. It’s the bottom of the ninth, you already have two strikes. Third strike and I’m out. I’m the coach of this game and it’s the dugout for you.”

Case History 3

Solomon comes to the therapist’s office alone. He looks very tired. He had arranged some sessions of individual therapy before scheduling couple’s therapy with his wives–

“When I was younger, I really liked to party. Even if I didn’t, some things are expected of the King of Israel. I’m married to Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. Some nights I can’t even remember their names. For instance, I’m married to three sisters named Jun, Jen and Jeun. And my first wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, is a real drama queen. I thought she’d mellow out but she’s still jealous as a cat. I think she’s been gossiping with some of my Edomite wives because my scouts report armed troops on the border and they’re getting intelligence from someone on the inside. It’s hard to establish trust when you have 1,000 wives, most of whom are from enemy tribes. I can’t seem to please any of them these days.”

Despite the challenges these tough cases present, the therapist can resolve all conflicts using simple rules based on the wisdom of millenia. It’s fortunate that traditional marriage has not changed in the last 3,000, 6,000, since Adam and Eve served dinosaur eggs at their wedding brunch. Though some complain that it’s hard to find room for all the cattle a bride brings to her husband’s family, mere convenience should not justify experimenting with an institution that has remained changeless through the ages and has served men so well.

(For more details on these cases see– Genesis 29-30:22, Genesis 38:6-30, 1 Kings 11:1-9, and do read your Bible for remedies to false claims.)

Is Blasphemy the New Pornography?

Mike Lux in the Huffington Post has a layman’s take on the contradictions of scripture. He sounds like a non-expert who read a lot of Bible– something I can relate to. He points out the unreasonableness of comparing the most warlike passages from the Koran with the most peaceful passages from the Bible…

“I’m not anti-Islam, I’m anti-terrorist. But if you take quotes from the Bible and compare them to the Quran, the Bible might say “turn the other cheek” while the Quran would say “strike your enemies down and kill them.”

I love quotes like this one, which show no knowledge at all of either the Quran or the Judeo-Christian Bible. My apologies to my religious friends of all faith traditions, but let’s be honest: every religious scripture has lots of questionable quotations and ideas in it. They all have a lot of good in them, teachings about morality and generosity and mercy and kindness, beautiful ideas and poetry and stories, but they all have what theologians technically refer to as icky stuff as well. To take one of Jesus’ gentlest quotes and line it up next to one of the Quran’s most violent isn’t what you would call, well, kosher.

He goes on to cite the many episodes of total anihillation the Israelites dished out on neighboring tribes.

Some Kmareka readers have questioned my right to cite scripture at all, since my three baptisms didn’t soak in and when the Rapture comes I will be checking the yard sales for all the good stuff Left Behind. But it’s my Book too.

I’m an English-speaking product of Western Culture, and the Bible is one of the great works of literature that shapes us. Ironically, it was recited, sung, and finally transcribed in the Middle East– a part of the world called the Cradle of Civilization.

You can’t read it without a sense of recognition, and without benefit if you are willing to learn. But Fundamentalism, a literal reading, is just crazy. From the Book of Genesis onward it is a group project, full of contradictions. Kind of like life.

The pattern of recent press coverage, where you get instant fame/infamy by spouting racial slurs on the radio or burning symbols of someone’s religion, reminds me of the slogan, ‘sex sells’.

Transgression and titillation– is blasphemy the new pornography? The escalation of hate speech– especially hate aimed at ‘non-combatants’, people who just happen to be a particular race or religion, is discouraging. Honestly, it makes me feel depressed. It’s one thing to have political flame wars, but unloading this stuff on ordinary people is just nasty.

But it’s effective. There’s a reason any random channel-surfing on TV will turn up violence. Our lizard-brain is aroused by this stuff. As David Jaffe said, you can’t turn away. A disgraced minister with a church of about fifty gets the notice of the President. I can’t count the number of public demonstrations I have participated in that got zero coverage– we were civil and made sense. If anyone thinks that declining to broadcast film of this particular un-civil and crazy stunt is unprecedented– well, welcome to my world.

We’re at the completion of the Ramadan fast, approaching Yom Kippur, looking forward to Samhain and Advent begins in a couple of months. Such a religious country we are. Can we unite around love?

Preaching to the Terrorized — An Allegory

[Seeing that Reverend Wright has emerged for more media time, I'd like to run this post again. The Good Lord spoke in parables, and so does Ninjanurse, when she manages not to forget the point halfway through]

It was a lovely day for a wedding at the Full Word of God Church, the church that takes the Bible literally. The bride and groom were both pure and uncompromised. Both home-schooled, and graduated with honors from Bible College. He was already making a good living selling Amway, and she looked forward to being a full-time Christian mother.

A guy with a guitar played that Paul Stookey wedding song, and then the guest preacher got up to say a few words to the happy couple. The Pastor, sadly, was in the hospital with a kidney stone. At the last minute they were able to get Reverend Ezekiel Bright.

Rev. Bright said a few words about the importance of faithfulness, and then launched with a thundering voice into these verses from the Bible…

“Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

… And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.

Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.” Ezekiel 23

The Reverend was winding up to share some more of the Holy Word, and elaborate on the ‘issue of horses’ but he never got the chance. Someone tripped over the microphone cord, and in that moment the choir director signaled the start of the Alleluia Chorus while the Ladies Guild surrounded Rev. Bright and hustled him to the back of the church.

The wedding went on with great festivity, and the Ladies plied him with cake until he fell asleep from sugar overload. He woke up in an empty church with a headache and a raging thirst, and a conviction that he had been greatly disrespected. ‘Tripped over the mike’ indeed. That was no accident.

“Lord!” he cried, “Why have they forsaken me?”

“What have I done, but tried to share your sacred word?”

“Have you not told us to be urgent in season and out of season, as St. Paul said?”

Tears filmed his eyes as he stared into the darkness of the empty church, and lo– the Lord appeared to him. Jesus walked up close to Rev. Bright and whupped him on the side of the head.

“Haven’t you ever heard of ‘context'”, asked the Lord. “How can you expect to reach people’s hearts and minds when you’re throwing a holy hand grenade at them?”

“But St. Paul said…”, Rev. Bright stuttered…

“Don’t start with me!”, growled St. Paul, materializing at Jesus’ right hand. “I was a Jew to the Jews and a Roman to the Romans. Give me credit for knowing a few things about politics.”

Jesus and St. Paul then stood on each side of Rev. Bright. St. Paul whupped him on the other side of his head and then they rose in a celestial cloud and vanished.

Rev. Bright pondered long and hard after that, but he never figured out what the Lord meant by ‘context’. It sounded too much like ‘compromise’. He ended up in a church that shared his vision, with a small congregation in a compound in Idaho.

He still feels hurt that the Full Word of God church would not hear his message about marital faithfulness, so biblical and appropriate to a wedding.

But sometimes it’s not what you say — it’s how you say it.

Hey Christians! Check This Out!

I seen it in the Bible.

16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Now, it doesn’t say that the rich man was cruel to Lazarus. In fact, it was probably really inconvenient to have this sore-covered beggar hanging out in front of his house. But the rich man, according to his sense of what was expected, allowed Lazarus to scrape up a few crumbs. He probably expected to be rewarded by God for his tolerance. What a surprise!

I’m not a Christian, but if I was I’d worry. The book of Luke says that the rich man has to give some real help to the poor sick guy. Or he’ll go to the hot place.