Things That Bind: The Marriage

The Betrothal

I became a member of Marble a few days before my 18th birthday when I was betrothed to David Glanville on June 6, 1995, shortly before my homeschool-high school graduation party. My “betrothal” was sanctioned by my parents, his parents, and the leaders at Marble before I was aware that there was a proposal coming. Of course I said yes.

I was not quite 18 and college, according to my dad was “no place for young ladies.” David was the most sophisticated, worldly and formally educated of all my teenage crushes. In truth, earlier in 1995, I had been grounded for writing letters to another boy I liked, a redneck who lived in Oregon and whom I had denied a kiss the summer before at a church camp. I had kissed one boy before I became betrothed, shortly after my 17th birthday, in the parking lot of the Subway in Colville where I worked.

I know my parents were concerned about my “boy-craziness” and how to best direct me toward a righteous pathway. If you asked them later, they would contend that I was enough of a free spirit that if I had not been allowed to marry David (remember, again, I had no idea he was proposing) they feared I would run away and elope with him anyway. Maybe they gave their blessing out of resignation, or from my perspective, a sense of relief in passing the baton of spiritual authority and responsibility for such a flight risk to a husband.

Hindsight is 20/20. Or in this case probably not that clear, but I want my readers to know that my parents did what they thought was best in raising me, and I love them for that. It is important to understand that in their quest, my parents took unconventional pathways that led us to where we are now but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the choices they made were done in love, if slightly misled, and their hope was always for my happiness and holiness. I have never, for one second, believed that they had anything but my spiritual well being and success in mind. They believed, as I did then, that all of my dreams were coming true.

David and I had been confronted (Matthew 18-ed) by a leader in the church for what she perceived to be us spending too much time together. We had been co-directing a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Marble, which was a ploy I had come up with to spend more time there and with him after taking an English class with several other homeschool students at the church. The English teacher, Angela Black, also a member of core group, felt that David and I were spending too much time together and called in my parents and other church leaders to address the issue.

I was deeply mortified to be in trouble at Marble before I was even a full-fledged member. In the middle of the meeting, which involved most of core group after a Sunday church service in early June, David jumped out of his chair and asked if he could speak to my dad. He and dad walked around the side of the building and came back after a few minutes, when my dad addressed the group and indicated that the issue would be dealt with in the "family government sphere" and the meeting was over. Unbeknownst to me, David had asked my dad if he could court me.

Mom, Dad and David had lunch at Rancho Chico in Colville the next day, where my dad told David that if he was truly hearing from the lord about me as a potential bride, he didn't see the need for courtship since I was already in love and the most logical step, in my parents' minds, was betrothal, which Dad felt was a less "worldly" term than engagement.

From my perspective the leaders at Marble were supportive of the union between David and myself. The Byrds had long been trying to get my parents to buy into Marble on a deeper level and my marriage offered that connection. My whole family began attending church regularly and my parents bought property and began construction on a house not long after I was married. David’s family had been at Marble for a few years before he came along to join them, only after failing out of college in one semester and spending some time back east training horses on a ranch.

He finally made his way to Marble in the winter of ‘94, where his four younger siblings and parents were. He lived in the dingy basement of the old house they had purchased, along with his twin brothers who are five years younger than he was (and the same age as me), younger sister Anne and the baby of the family, Peter, who was a couple years younger than I was.

David’s college experience (as minimal as it was) seemed exotic and worldly to me. He had been an English Lit major, and even though his grades ruled out a return after one semester, he was the first person I knew who had actually gone to college. I met him briefly at a conference about “Restoring American’s Biblical Foundations” put on by a pastor named Paul Jehle in Boise with several other youth from Marble and a few of my own homeschooling associates.

I was instantly enamored with David. He was five years older than I was and the coolest thing I had ever seen. His wavy blonde hair and knee high combat boots were complemented by a ratty, fatigue green ensemble which gave him a Kurt-Cobain-meets-Fidel-Castro sort of appeal, if I even knew who those people were back then. He was undeniably handsome and an unmistakable renegade in our prudish circle of denim skirts and crisp button downs with only one allowable buttonhole freed. I was crushing hard. For all of my goody-two-shoesness, I had a thing for the rebel without a cause. I had a map hanging over my top bunk in the room I shared with my younger sister Emily. I had a thumb tack placed in the state of Virginia, where I knew he was training horses. Every night I would pray that he would come back and notice me. Eventually he did.

The Fall

Shortly into our betrothal period, David began to tell me that he would not be able to wait until we were married to be physically involved. He didn’t think he could control himself and told me he shouldn’t be around me or we would both be in trouble. During one conversation (as I repented to him for the one kiss I had outside of our sacred relationship) he admitted to me that he was “not as pure as he should be.” I took this to mean several kisses, maybe even copping a feel or two. I quickly forgave him and insisted that we were both sinners but all was forgotten. Later, I would learn our perspective on purity was vastly different.

I lost my virginity to David a few weeks before our wedding in his filthy basement room after we had rationalized together that betrothal, in the biblical sense, was the same as marriage, as Joseph and Mary were betrothed and they lived together. That term gave us all the room we needed to fail. As an interesting side note, when I researched betrothal later, I learned that what distinguishes it from engagement is the cultural assumption that it’s an arrangement made without knowledge or consent of one of the parties, usually when one of them is still a child, by the families. Our physical relationship was at once non-stop, aggressive, and became all consuming leading up to the wedding. All of this I attributed to a passionate love, but as I would learn over time, David’s passion rarely extended beyond a compelling urge for physical gratification and rage-filled outbursts.

The Wedding

I was married October 7th of that year. The plan for a year-long betrothal dissolved as David and I pushed against the standards my dad had set for consistent employment and a place to live. At the time, those things seemed like small problems to solve, and in my naive mind, we had more than enough love to fix them. David, who had some background as a professional horse trainer, was waiting for a fall job grafting trees for a local nursery. I had been working at Barman’s lunch counter in Colville, along with some house cleaning and other side jobs. David worked a deal with a property owner to deconstruct and move a small log cabin for us to live in. The deal ultimately fell apart but the plan was enough to get the stamp of approval to move ahead with the wedding.

The wedding was an odd outdoor affair in early October with leaves on the ground and two bonfires to light the ceremony. I wore the satin dress that my grandmother wore in her wedding in the late 1940s. David’s dad, Paul, played his trumpet to announce the arrival of the bridegroom. I was escorted by a “cloud of virgins” to the wedding canopy, representing spiritual authority and covering, held by our brothers and one of my closest (obviously male) friends. A bit of Jewish tradition sprinkled in throughout the ceremony paid homage to David’s eccentricity, the importance of symbolism in the community, and my naive intrigue with anything exciting and new.

On our wedding night, I tasted wine for the first time when David and I took wedding communion. I hated it. The wedding reception would later cause a major scandal and a series of community meetings at Marble which I would miss while on my month-and-a-half long honeymoon. I was obsessed with the movie “Swingkids” in the mid 90s and all of my dorky homeschooling friends loved pretending to know how to swing dance. So of course my reception playlist included several swing hits. We all threw off our shoes and went wild. My grandmother even demonstrated some of the spins and rolls that she remembered from the actual era.

It was one of the best memories of the wedding. Perhaps even of the marriage. But later Anne Byrd would call the young people at Marble into accounting for the disorderly and chaotic dancing. Apparently line dancing and some country swing were allowable, but this type of anarchy was a disgrace. Hearing about the meetings was my first exposure to the type of subjective tyranny that I would find everywhere at Marble, and I was shocked.

When I got home I repented for my involvement in the chaos and leading others astray. This type of taste-based judgement was commonplace with Anne. During one meeting I remember her publicly declaring Hawaiian shirts to be effeminate, completely disgusting, and saying that any male who would wear one probably needed to examine his perspective of his role as a man in the Kingdom of God. This incident stands out to me particularly because it’s the first time I heard another leader challenge Anne. Vicki Johnson told Anne that growing up in California, all the manliest studs wore Hawaiian shirts, and it was completely a matter of subjective opinion. Anne was shocked, both with Vicki’s public challenge and her (clearly deviant) taste.

My parents had given me a 1972 Volvo that I had seen in someone’s backyard and fallen in love with for my graduation present that summer. The dark blue paint had oxidized to purple and it didn’t run. Before it was fixed, I bought paint and painted flowers all over the sides and named it “Grimace.” We got it running (barely) and planned a honeymoon road trip all the way from Marble to Wisconsin to stay at a lake cabin that belonged to David’s aunt and uncle after a few days on the Oregon Coast, where all of my best childhood vacation memories had taken place.

Some of my best friends had snuck out of the reception to decorate Grimace for our departure, using spray bottles of whipping cream to write epithets on the windshield, and every other surface. Melting whipped cream was dripping from the car when we clambered in with me still clumsily lumbering around in my grandmother’s antique satin wedding gown. We drove toward Chewelah where David’s mom, Donna, had booked us a night at a bed and breakfast well off the beaten path. The melting fat on the windshield was smeared like frosting by the crusty old windshield wipers. It turns out that windshield wiper fluid wasn’t a thing in 1972.

A mile from the church, David had to pull off to the side of Highway 25 and use the only liquid in the car (the remainder of our communion wine) to clean off the windshield. Following tradition, a few cars of well-wishers were behind us, honking and waving and shooing us on our way. One of them pulled up alongside to make sure that we weren’t having any serious issues. Before they could even offer help, the innocent family friends of my parents stopped and rolled down their window and were introduced to David’s short temper. I sat mortified in the front seat.

“Go back to hell where you came from,” he screamed in frustration at them. I sank down into my seat and fought back tears as I watched them huffily roll up their window and take off. 40 minutes later, we coasted into a gas station in Colville where Grimace’s battery died. David was forced to ask for help from the only other vehicle there, which happened to be the nice family he blew up at. He offered some form of apology, which in David’s repertoire always includes a justification, and they gave us a reluctant jump-start while I cried.

I wish I could say there was a happy moment on our honeymoon. That first moment set off a chain of events that went from bad to worse, and I had my first encounter with David’s potential for violence soon after we got to the Oregon Coast. All of my childhood memories on those beaches began to fade as they were replaced with the seared images of pain and confusion that I was faced with for nearly a week there. David’s demand for sex was non-stop. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was in pain. Once, when I asked him to stop because something was hurting me, he punched the pillow right next to my head and shouted at me that I was his wife and I was not allowed to defraud him. I rarely tried to stop him after that. I was devastated.

We went on to Wisconsin, and the most poignant memory I have of the trip is the sense of abject misery. I was sick. I was battling a terrible yeast infection, and bladder infection, and who knows what else. With no way to see a doctor, we called David’s dad (a medical doctor) who recommended some yogurt. I was so exhausted and completely disillusioned. My laid back, knight-in-shining-armor now seemed like a nightmare to me. Shortly after we got to Wisconsin, I was in bad enough shape that his uncle, who was a pharmacist, suggested I take a pregnancy test. I scoffed. There was no way. We hadn’t even been trying to get pregnant. How ignorant I must have seemed to those nice people. How naive. How broken.

Things To Explain: A Glossary

It was mentioned to me that as this story that I am telling unfolds, it might be helpful to identify some of the key players and define some buzz words and phrases that were in common use at Marble, for the uninitiated. So here is a break down of the authority structure at Marble during the time that I lived there (1995-2004), and some terms you will see used throughout the narrative. This blog entry may be edited over time to add or update.

Key Terms/Phrases

Matthew 18: Refers to the process of confronting another individual that you perceive to be in sin. This process is based on Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

Covenant: Marble had a formal covenant that had been signed by members before my family came to Marble. During the nine years I was at Marble, there were continual talks about a new "covenant signing" for families who had proven themselves to be covenant keepers, but if that ever happened, I was not involved or invited. The covenant bound members to accountability and subjected them to ex-communication if the terms were violated, among other things. I was never allowed to read the covenant, being "non-covenental" in my messy life.

Courtship: "biblical" substitute for dating, usually requires socializing in a group setting, no real basis in scripture other than the intent to preserve chastity.

Called vs. Chosen: Based on Matthew 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." The idea that everybody might be invited to the banquet of the king, but only the ones who show up wearing the right garments get to stay. For everyone else: "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth," (verse 13).

Self-Confrontation: A textbook that was required study for every member of the community. Based on the principles of looking inward and rooting out impure motives and unbiblical reactions. This exercise is one of the skills that I developed at Marble that I am actually grateful for.

The Process: Refers to the refining of an individual through hardship, imposed internally (see self-confrontation) or externally (Matthew 18). Any life events that caused pain or strife were also part of "the process."

Pressing In: The active role an individual was expected to take in his or her "process" leading toward being a "son of the vision" and proving dedication to the mission. This would include "falling on your sword" (taking responsibility beyond your own fault at times), and seeking out opportunities to die to self in order to serve the community vision.

Inquest: A process used primarily in the Prep School that involved all of the students and a few leaders praying intently over and into the life of a specific student, seeking very detailed words from the lord for that person. Inquests usually involved intense confrontation and revelation of new callings from the leader(s) to the student. Adults in the community other than Core 1 leaders were excluded from these exercises.

Restitution: Based on Leviticus 6:1-7,2 ("If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; 3 Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: 4 Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, 5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.") is the principle that a sinner should repay his trespasses to the victim of his sin, which at Marble, often meant the church, since bringing "sin into the camp" affected the blessings/cursings on the whole congregation. This money was paid to the church with no accountability. The scale of restitution was based on Proverbs 6:31 - "But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house."

Cell Group: A small group of church members, assigned according to a word from the lord to leadership, usually consisting of 3-5 families who held each other accountable and reported upline to their cell group leaders, who were often members of core group. Sometimes these groups were determined demographically (ie. the "young marrieds", etc). Here is a great article that describes the cell church structure: Divide and conquer: "Cell Churches" and hijacks

Prayer Counseling: is a practice that seeks to dig out roots of evil planted during youth, etc, that is causing a harvest of bad fruit. It is performed in a small group, usually a pair of leaders and the perpetrator, praying together. The lord tells the leaders what root of iniquity is buried deeply in the subconscious of the sinner and they seek forgiveness for judgements that were made as small children, even in utero infants. This practice resulted in many "reclaimed" memories of community members about abuse that they had buried in their past and other dubious accusations that were hurled around after a prayer counseling session.

Leadership 1995-2004

Core Group 1
Barry & Anne Byrd: Head Pastors - "accountable" to Dennis Peacocke
Jim & Ronnie Buck: Assistant Pastors
Steve & Cheryl Melzer: Assistant Pastors (they were not formally titled this and performed more of a "servant" role to Anne and Barry, as Cheryl explained it to me. They felt called to serve at Anne & Barry's feet.)

Core Group 2
Rick & Vicki Johnson
Steve & Toni Parker (Steve is now a Stevens County Commissioner)
Glen & Jeannie Thompson
Dale & Jeanne Ochs
Troy & Heather Anderson
Mark & Angela Black

Things That Begin: Exordium

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” - Matthew 7:15-20

I’m here to set the record straight. Or maybe more accurately, deliver my version of the record. I won’t tell you this isn’t biased, because everything that we read, and certainly every thing that we write has a bias. Mine has been formed over more than four decades, informed by experiences - some that many people have, and several that very few do. Some of the highly personal things I share here are things I have waited for years to say, to protect my children and extended family, but must be shared in order for you, the reader, the voter, the community resident, to understand the nature of these people who would be our local leaders. Some things in these stories will contradict what you think you know about Marble. Some things will confirm what you have heard. My goal is not to destroy the lifestyle of the people who live at Marble. I support their right and desire to live in a community of like-minded people. Most Marbleites are good people, good parents and good citizens.Whether you agree with their version of citizenship or not, they are for the most part, law-abiding and respectful members of the larger community, and I respect the right they have to live as they have chosen. The leadership of the church there, and their intent to bring “dominion” to the greater community through local government is a different story.

There were enough terrible and wrong things that happened during the nine years I spent at Marble (1995-2004) that I feel no need to glamorize or embellish the story. There were enough weird things that happened that the story is hard enough to believe even without adding drama. I do not claim to have a flawless recollection of my time there, but as I have written this I have been pouring through my journals and church notes, and reaching out to others who were there to compare memories. Most of these people will corroborate my recollection on the record if needed. Some are still too worried about the fall out to do so. Some things at Marble have changed, but experiences I have had in recent years have been enough to convince me that the highest level leaders that are in place there have only learned to mask their holy directive more carefully, for legal and strategic reasons.

In the Beginning

I wasn’t raised at Marble. Most people that I meet assume that I spent my growing up, or formative years, in the small community that sits above the Columbia River just where Lake Roosevelt ends and only a few miles from where the mighty stream comes into the United States from its point of origin in Canada. The truth is that I DID spend some of my most formative years there, as a sheltered young adult with no exposure to real life or "traditional" education. My parents moved to Colville when I was 12, after they found the small-town ideal they had been seeking when they visited some people they met at a home school conference in Portland. Anne and Barry Byrd hosted our family for a visit to northeastern Washington, and once mom and dad figured out the logistics, we moved. In 1987, Marble didn’t exist yet. It was formed a few years later after a group of investors bought the 500 acre site of the town which had died out in the 1960s.

When the church began to establish a community on Marble Flats, my parents visited a few times, but the fact that girls at Marble were allowed to wear tight Wranglers and line dance was a turn off for my family, who at that time was involved in the Advanced Training Institute, and part of that lifestyle included a vow I made to God to never wear pants again (a vow I have since broken, but more on that another time). Marble was simultaneously too worldly, charismatic and, well, just weird, for my parents to fully invest in back then, as were most churches we visited, including many in the area around Colville. We never found a long-term church home that my parents were truly happy with. The lack of social and spiritual connection left me yearning to belong. In some ways I was unintentionally but perfectly groomed to fall in step behind leaders that would manipulate and guide my virgin mind.

The sermon notes in my journals begin in early June of ‘95. I listened with rapt attention as the Byrds and other leaders delivered diatribes against the state of our nation and the broken relationship with God that we all lived in due to lowered standards - “halfway covenants.” I have several notebooks full of very thorough church notes.

From the time I was a young girl, I was in earnest pursuit of a meaningful spiritual walk. In short, I was something of a zealot as a child, witnessing to "park rats" in Yep Kanum and such. The fiery passion that I heard from the pulpit of Marble filled a constant yearning I had, not only for the connection with other people that homeschooling had denied me, but an elite and specialized opportunity to relate to God on a plane that most people would never get to experience. As I learned from the leaders there, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to be in everything. Every class, every prayer session, every bit of it, and I religiously kept notes for everything I was allowed to be involved in. I say allowed, because even as a card-carrying, newly inducted member of the community, I had to prove myself and be “qualified” to take certain classes and join certain groups, a standard I would soon find myself unable to attain, for all of my heartfelt trying.

To clarify for my audience now, I no longer call myself a Christian. I do have a relationship with God. I do not believe that the bible is our only means of connection to Him nor is it the only moral code available to us, and many ancient philosophers would agree with me. I do believe that a group of leaders who twisted those scriptures to their own purposes and abused so many people psychologically, emotionally and in other ways, should be held to the same brutal and subjective standards which they imposed upon others. 

Things To Say

I've been watching Season 3 of the Handmaid's Tale, and I can probably place direct blame there for the deep, dark funk I find myself in this morning. Or maybe there something more real behind the sense of necessary dread I feel...

If you have never experienced the heavy hand of religious tyranny, the show seems outrageously fanatical, I am sure. I won't claim that I have been subjected to horrors on the level that Gilead has deployed in the series, but last night, when June was given a shroud to cover her mouth, indicating the silence dictated for her role, I felt my chest tighten and bile rise in my throat as I have many times throughout this series.

If you think that there are not people in this world who believe that God has told them the best prescription for your life, you are naive. If you do not know that some of these people believe the Lord has called them to the ruling class and that they are moving slowly, methodically into positions of political power (see Matt Shea), you'd be blind. There are, even among us in Stevens County, in Colville, people who believe that they are empowered by divine right to take leadership in our community to lead us down the path of their version of righteousness. They believe that they have been commissioned to bring the Kingdom of God, as they interpret it from the Bible, to play now, in local government. If you don't believe me, I have the church notes to prove it.

These people preach liberty but believe that LOVE, other than the married, heterosexual type, should be punishable by death or torture. These people preach liberty but would, according to the dictates of THEIR conscience, subject you to MORE LAWS that would take away your freedom to make choices about your own personal life, health, and moral convictions. These people preach God but would insert themselves as intermediaries in any relationship you might have with him. These people would replace Jesus as the conduit of grace in our lives. They speak liberty from their mouths and deliver bondage in their theology. Again, if you need proof, I have it.

I lived in this world for nine years. Like the people who came out of Gilead and lived, tortured by the guilt of things that they were subject to and participated in, willingly or otherwise, I have kept silent about the very real threat to liberty that over-reaching religion brings because of a similar guilt. I have been a part of the shunning. I have stood in judgement of others, believing God called me to that status with the other Elites of the Kingdom. I am guilty.

I believe in liberty. I believe, like our founding fathers did, in the importance of being able to find, serve and worship God on individual terms. Many of us who were raised in religious homes deal with the daily struggle of guilt-driven morality, working to find our own meaning in belief and action, but living under religious leaders who profess to know and to tell you what God wants for you, demands of you, and even will not accept from you, through those leaders as exclusive intermediaries of His will, is a whole different level of spiritual abuse. This, and the intentional, psychological manipulation (based on this book, and others) of young, damaged and malleable souls, is something that leaders of the "Christian Community" to which I belonged will answer for.

I left that place because I could not imagine my daughters growing up and blooming under that tyranny, just like June delivered her baby out of Gilead with the help of her mistress, who acknowledged the same threat to any woman in the Kingdom of "God". My silence has been the red shroud of shame and acceptance of my role and my guilt. But now, I am part of a new community and my silence allows the quiet trickle of this apparently "harmless" disease into the places I live and work.

There is a time for silence, and there is a time for action. More and more I understand that my time to act is coming. The knowledge of what this means for my own life is of very little consequence if it teaches my daughters that there is no price high enough for the liberty to speak, pray, and live as God has given me the free will to do, under no man's interpretation of divine law.

I have more to things to say, but every journey begins with a single step. If you would like to join me on a journey out of my own Gilead, I invite you to follow me here. I ask for your patience and grace as I find my voice along the way.

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