Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Patriarchalism revisited

Back in late March through May, I ran a series (still not finished!) on the CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit" held in mid-March, a "summit"--for men only--that was supposed to "cast the vision" for the entire Christian homeschool movement going forward.

I've been mostly preoccupied with other issues since then, so I haven't done too much thinking about the issues. Except . . . they creep in every now and then.

For example, Sarita became exercised enough about what she was hearing, that she contacted Mary Pride to get her take on the patriarchal movement. We're still waiting to "hear" a definitive word on what Mary thinks. But she, too, apparently, is (or was) disturbed enough by what had just come across her radar that she asked Sarita if she would write an article for Practical Homeschooling magazine.

Sarita complied . . . and The Future of Homeschooling in America (NOTE: it's a 2.3MB PDF file!) was the result.

And then, shortly after it got going in July, someone alerted me to The Patriarch's Bible blog--a satirical look at the way the (collaborative) authors believe too many leaders in the homeschool movement are reinterpreting Scripture. As they wrote in their inaugural post:
Think of this like The Message, a paraphrase built around a particular Bible interpretation - but like a PC ("patriarchally correct") one. It's not that we don't take passages like Revelation 22:18-19 seriously. We take them VERY seriously. That's why we think it's important to expose all of the crazy interpretations that modern day patriarchists read into God's Word. . . .

For our part, the creators of this blog resent it when fallible humans read too much of their own interpretations into the Text. They want to see what isn't there. They want to believe something that isn't obvious is obvious. The purpose of this blog is to bring this problem - and believe us, it IS a serious problem - out into the open for discussion. We aren't "teaching" anyone. We aren't trying to un-convert anyone. We're just exercising free speech in a humorous way.
I think the site started out humorous enough (though with a piquant flavor). In the last couple of posts, the taste has become more bitter.

And yet I think the authors have maintained most of their original stated purpose.


I was looking at The Patriarch's Bible a few days ago when I decided to follow some of the links I had never followed before.
And then I read some of the stories that she has posted--and others have also posted--on her site.

What I read alarmed me so much, I wrote to my daughters, one of whom is a strong proponent of the views of one of the women whose books are referenced in both of the stories I intend to quote below.

"Dear Amy and Jonelle," I wrote my daughters:
Primarily because Sonlight was pushed out of the CHEC convention last year, and I've been trying to figure out why (as I recorded in my personal blog back in January and February); partially because you, Amy, wrote to me about your concerns that I might be following the lead of certain men as I marveled at their 200-Year plans; but very much because I have followed up on all of these matters and have been doing my own research in these areas, I have come to think of the movement (strong and growing stronger, apparently, among Christian homeschoolers) known as "patriarchy" and "quiverfull" as being truly worthy of opposition. And the people needing to be opposed are not just Doug Phillips and Doug Wilson and others of their closest compatriots. But the Pearls, too, have taught ways of thinking that lead to the same kinds of abusive problems that we see--and, apparently, even Michael Pearl is willing to point out--among those who follow Phillips, Wilson, Harris, Lindvall, and so many others.

I urge you to please read the response by "adventuresinmercy" to Allison's comment about how happy she is as a quiverfull/patriarchy wife and mother. Having lived, as I did, in a dysfunctional family growing up, I find adventuresinmercy's comments realistic, alarming . . . and extremely insightful.

I hope her comments alarm you, too--Amy and Jonelle.

If either of you should ever find yourself in circumstances similar to adventuresinmercy's, may I say it: You have not only the right, but the responsibility to speak out against what adventuresinmercy describes as toddler behavior on the part of your husband. Mom has spoken out against such behavior on my part on numerous occasions. And may I say: It was a good and blessed thing that she did. --Talk about being my helpmeet? That was helpmeet/helpmate behavior. She helped (and every time she does that, she helps) me become the kind of thoughtful, considerate man I need to become if I am to fulfill the call of Christ in my life.

I don't know how to love my wife with the love of Christ . . . unless she talks to me about both my good and bad behavior.


One more thing: I thought you should see the article Mom wrote and had published in Practical Homeschooling magazine (Mary Pride's magazine). If you haven't read it, you can read it here. (It's a huge PDF file. I tried to optimize it, but couldn't get it to become any smaller than it is: basically 2.3MB!)

The article is very mild, considering the issues that the patriarchalists/quiverfull advocates push for and that lead to a lot of women finding themselves being abused . . . by their husbands, their ministers, fellow church members . . .

Hope you find these things helpful and thought-provoking.


In case you require a little "inspiration" to click through to read the whole article I referenced for my daughters, let me quote a portion. I think it speaks well for itself.

Allison wrote:
I am a Christian, homeschooling, full-quiver-er who [wants to say] that there are some women [following the "full quiver" lifestyle] that are actually living a life of joy and normalcy. I have a husband who adores me and our children. He allows me to be myself. He doesn’t lord over me the convictions that we both have. . . . Our home is full of laughter and learning. I take endless joy in the life I lead and the children I am raising up to serve the Lord.

Just because you both ended up in terrible marriages does not make every Christian, homeschooling, full-quivering woman an abused, unintelligent, following, mindless, uninformed hag. My best friends are women who are living this “movement” blatantly, joyfully, and without an ounce of abuse or rebellion. You would do well to recognize that, admit that, and own up to the fact that just because you experienced the worst, doesn’t mean that those of us living that lifestyle come even CLOSE to feeling the way you do. We don’t. . . .
Adventuresinmercy replied (in part):

I know similar families like yours.

What a joy they are! :)

What I do wish you would acknowledge, though, is that the specific teachings often promoted in this movement/camp helped contribute to the abuse, if not outrightly approved of . . . the woman’s meek *acceptance* of the hyper-controlling and dominating behavior of her husband.

I know that for me, I put up with it for MUCH longer than I ever should have, ONLY because I thought it was God’s will that I be in submission.

In fact, the very first thing that happened floored me (as we drove away on our honeymoon). . . but I was a wife . . . and I knew that wives HAD to submit . . . wives had to do whatever their husbands wanted, because wives were not allowed any personal boundaries.

When we got back from our honeymoon and he commanded that I give up my car, my tv, my guitar, etc, I complied with only a whimper of protest. I didn’t have the rights to own things anymore. I was a wife now, and my husband was my spiritual authority. HIS vision for how our home would look, for what we would do with our lives, etc, was to be MY vision. This is what I’d learned in Bible School, this is what all the books said, and besides, he wasn’t asking me to sin. Right?

So later, when my husband gave me lists for what I had to clean to perfection before being allowed to go to bed at night, etc, I submitted because I thought that was what God wanted. In fact, if there was anybody who was in sin, I was positive it was ME for feeling so humiliated at being given these long lists. I thought *my* reaction was what was sinful, not my husband treating me like a child.

According to the teachings of this camp, the only time a wife has the right to say no to her husband is when he’s asking her to sin. And giving a detailed list of how the kitchen had to be completely sanitized and toothbrush-scrubbed before I could climb the stairs for bed (where he was waiting for me, ready for some action), was not sin. Right?

My heart would sink to my stomach as I climbed those stairs, finally done with my job, and, get this, again, I was sure (thanks to all the books I’d read) that the problem was ME. I would be so ashamed of myself for MY sin at not being a cheerful and amorous wife.

I learned to fake it (because a godly wife NEVER ever says no to her husband in bed—she has no rights to any boundaries when it comes to what he wants, and that includes the most intimate parts of her own body), and I fervently prayed for the real feelings to come (looking back, er, I can figure out REAL quick why I would walk up those stairs in dread…who wants to be amorous with someone who treats you like a child . . . ?)

Who backed up those beliefs of mine? Who taught them to me in the first place?

The patriarchy movement. . . .
The story continues, and I would say: with great insight. To quote just one minor further point:
If you never say no to a toddler and always give them what they demand, you’ll have a monster on your hands in no time flat. Same with unhealthy husbands. But the patriarchy movement taught me the exact opposite.
--And adventuresinmercy quotes chapter and verse from numerous patriarchal advocates' key books.

Please: If you have ever come close to dealing with couples where the wife seems a mere shadow of vibrancy, I urge you to read Dear Happy Full Quiver-er.

And then, for a follow-through, read A Most Twisted Love, another insightful article in which the author asks, "Is a patriarchal relationship of entitlement-meets-martyrdom a healthy and mutually beneficial expression of love?"

Answer: Absolutely not!

But read what she quotes from Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious.

Eye-opening. And alarming.

--I pray you will be properly eye-opened and alarmed!
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