Dear G.:

I am slowly catching up with my mail.

Thank you for bringing up II Corinthians 10,
especially the "stronghold" word.

    [Here is the passage:  verses 3 - 7:

    For though we live in the world, we do not
    wage war as the world does.

    The weapons we fight with are not the
    weapons of the world. On the contrary,
    they have divine power to demolish

    We demolish arguments and every
    pretension that sets itself up against the
    knowledge of God, and we take captive
    every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

    And we will be ready to punish every act of
    disobedience, once your obedience is

    You are looking only on the surface of

I offer that the word "stronghold" is an
analogy.  That is, a mental picture of a fortress,
very rough, very much at the edge of territory --
in the Old Testament, strongholds were also
places of military or civilian refuge should the
territory be too unsafe for normal living.

In a sense, Paul is perhaps calling to mind a
picture of ancient warfare such as the taking of
the Promised Land, or of Roman warfare.  
Strongholds were attacked.. and yes, some
were demolished to show the utter authority of
the attacking commander or king.  

Since the battlefield of Christianity is chiefly in
our minds, by analogy then, it seems reasonable
that a "stronghold" can be a human argument,
belief, or pretension that serves as a fortress to
protect the human "landowner" from the
consequences of "righteous" insight.  

So far, so good.  No problem really.

But then, the Spirit moves Paul to pen:  " You
are looking only on the surface of things."
[verse 7]

Ouch.  Therein lies the rub, so to speak.

An outsider is quick to view the "surface of
things" as the "stronghold" -- and without an
insight from God, is normally way off target.

Let's try the stronghold of alcoholism.  Gosh, at
first, no one would disagree with me calling
"alcoholism" a "stronghold".  Ah, no one, except
skilled counselors.  Because, when the skilled
counselor works with an alcoholic, the game is
seldom "stop drinking and all will be well" (that
is, let's tear down that stronghold), but the
game is searching out all the things that are
"under the surface" (wherein the real
strongholds exist).  

Counselors may ask questions or help guide the
client into questions, such as "What pain are you
trying to forget?" "What poverty seems to leave
when you drink?"  "What joys are you trying to
recapture?"  "What happens before you go on a
drinking binge?"  "Your father was an alcoholic?
Wow, talk to me about that, k?"

Most counselors (not all) believe that if the
things "under the surface" are not addressed,
then the alcoholism will simply resurrect into
another outlet:  overuse of drugs, high
adrenaline near-death experiences, high risk
sex, anti-depressant dependency, and so forth.  
Thus, these believe that a stronghold can and
will be rebuilt unless the underlying forces are
satisfactorily addressed.

There is a thought among some counselors that
moving the "destructive vice" to a "less
destructive vice" is good.  Thus, these
counselors would move the client from
"alcoholism" to "anti-depressants" and then to
"high-adrenaline activities" and consider the
problem solved.  A less destructive "stronghold"
is a good solution in this school of thought.

All that said, here is a sample conversation:

    Person A:  "Your cross-dressing is a

    Person B:  "Are you saying that you wish to
    talk about the underlying compelling forces,
    or that you wish me to change my outward
    behavior into something you feel is more

In this sample, Person A is using spiritual jargon
to off-balance their opponent.  But Person B is
staying balanced, and offering vulnerability for
further attack.

Allowing further attack is a concept from
Matthew chapter 5.  It is simply not for everyone
right now at this time.  Really, it is not.  

It is, to me, aikido, and must be moved into
aikido of love.  It is moving from
argument/debate into the imitation of Christ, in
my opinion.  It is blessing those that curse you,
and imitating Christ who endured insults and
emptied Himself into the form of a servant.  It is
being fairly sued in court, but resigning the case
and giving the other party your tunic and your
cloak as well.

[Returning to the example,]

    Person A may reply "Both, really."  Let's
    pretend that it is so.

    Now, Person B can offer more vulnerability:  
    "I dress because I like the feel of silk", "I
    dress because it is just part of me, and I
    feel ok with it", "I dress because then I can
    be nice to our dog and cat", "I dress
    because then I can worship God closely,
    otherwise, I can't,"; "I dress to escape"; "I
    dress because it gives me an adrenaline
    kick"; and on and on.  

Person A may now spit upon you or come closer,
and the discussion can go anywhere.  

    - If they spit on you, it hurts, but that is
    what they did to our Lord and Master.  The
    "servant is not greater than his Master nor
    the student greater than his Teacher".  
    Rejoice, for you offered the openness of
    Christ, and have joined Him in His
    sufferings.  Also, you have "left room for
    the revenge of God", and God's Spirit may
    convict your attacker of your Christ-likeness
    and their savageness.

    - If they come closer, just share your
    thoughts gently.  In time, they will share
    their similar thoughts.  You will know each
    other's pain and joys.  You will be able to
    turn each other to the comfort of God.  
    This, to me, is aikido of love.  One turn of
    aikido can take days, so I think it is good to
    not feel compelled to rush any

It is also possible that Person B can get an equal
charge (or whatever) by giving up cross-
dressing and doing another activity.  This is not
repression, but is re-channeling.  Repression will
most likely cause a binge-and-purge cycle.  Re-
channeling means to build another stronghold
that is more acceptable to our culture.  I have a
couple problems with this concept:

    - It focuses on "outward things" and not
    "on the heart".  A preacher that gets his
    adrenaline out of sermons and having
    status and power will have all his works
    "judged as if by fire".  What was done out
    of love, is what remains.  To our culture, the
    preacher was acceptable.  But the
    preacher's heart is what God observed.... I
    think the same applies to cross-dressing,

    - I've not met a long-term cross-dresser
    that said re-channeling worked.  I think it
    may work among some very young men
    that experiment with CDing.  But I have
    zero proof, really.  And I've not known a lot
    of cross-dressers, so my sample is very
    small.  But from what I've seen, long-term
    male cross-dressers find something very
    satisfying in dressing as a female -- and re-
    channeling that compelling force into a
    bigger bass boat just doesn't turn the trick,
    so to speak.

So, let's say Person B now talks about "what do
you think about changing my outward behavior
into something you feel is more acceptable?"

    - This allows another turn of aikido, wherein
    Person A can say, "Yeah, because the
    neighbors will hate us if you are a CD"; "I
    can't go to bed with you in a night gown, I
    just can't..."; "I feel like there is another
    woman in the home"; "I feel like I somehow
    failed you and didn't make you into a real
    man"; "why don't you buy a new
    shotgun?"; and on and on.

Suddenly, we are able to examine the
"strongholds" in the other person, perhaps our
wife, for example.  We are now seeing
vulnerabilities, fears, and confusions - the real
strongholds that are under the surface -- these
are places where we, as an imitator of Christ,
can give hearing, long listening, and say, "talk to
me some more, please"; and "thank you for
sharing your heart, let me take it in, k?"

Strongholds are a wonderful subject
for a husband and wife to discuss, in
my opinion, especially if they talk
about what is below the surface, and
listen, listen, and listen.  

Just listening validates many people as real
people with real feelings -- this alone can make
a marriage much more intimate.  This alone, in
my opinion, can heal many wounds.  God hears
our prayers, and somehow, knowing that He
listened, validates my feelings right?

So, I think I dislike the jargon of "strongholds",
but love the discussion of "what is underneath"
those strongholds, because it allows openness,
vulnerability, listening, sharing, and the imitation
of Christ at intimate levels of insight.  

Now *that* is a marriage or relationship worth
having, don't you think? <soft smile>

Much love in Christ, always;



(c) Copyright Caryn LeMur 2006
The Collection of Short Works,
Letters, and Poems
What do you say to someone that
says, "Oh, this thing of yours is a

'Stronghold' is just not a normal
word in the  American vocabulary.  
It sounds ominous, scary, and
gosh, so very spiritual for the
other person to say it and offer to
pray for you... or to reject you....

And, the Bible indeed uses that
word - Stronghold - wow, sounds
like 'strongholds' must be bad.

But then, the Bible talks about
how a person should look in order
to find and define any 'Stronghold'
that is within them.

As usual, God's Word is much
more brilliant than we imagine.

So, don't be frightened of the
word 'Stronghold', unless that is,
you enjoy 'looking only on the
surface of things.'


In Deepest Sympathy -
Poetry for those that grieve
Building Faith, Hope, & Love -
Stories and Writings
A Cup Of Cold Water -
Letters For The Thirsty
A Pause In The Forest -
Poetry for thoughtful moments