HA note: The following is reprinted in a modified format with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on December 3, 2013 with the title, “Matthew Chapman, and Why I Included Lauren’s Picture.”
Matthew Chapman wrote the following in 2003, five years before he gave his daughter Lauren away in marriage. In it he referred to his marriage at age 27 to Lauren’s mother Maranatha, who was only 15 at her wedding:
I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?!
…I had no idea how common this sort of thing was, because no one in my homeschool community had married before age 18, and I still don’t know how common it is—but it’s clearly more common than I had hoped. What really bothers me here is the age difference bit. If these parents were marrying their 16-year-old daughters off to other families’ 17-year-old sons I would still be concerned, but when they’re marrying their 16-year-old daughters off to full grown men significantly older in both years and experience, I am appalled—and not in small part because of quotes like Matthew Chapman’s.
I also learned is that Matthew Chapman is going to be a keynote speaker at Christian Home Educators of Ohio’s annual homeschool convention this summer.
This is a major convention, and this past summer the now-discredited Doug Phillips was a keynote speaker. Voddie Baucham spoke there in 2012, as did Eric Ludy. In addition to Matthew serving as keynote speaker, his wife Maranatha is slated as a featured speaker. Matthew runs Kindling Publications, and both Maranatha and Lauren is featured heavily on organization’s website.
Like it or not, it appears that the mainstream of the Christian homeschooling movement, its major convention circuit, has chosen to give a platform to those who practice and promote the marriage of girls of 15 and 16 to much-older men. Here is something else Matthew Chapman wrote in 2003:
Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.
This is the man who is now being given the keynote slot at major Christian homeschooling conventions.
People need to know this.
Matthew Chapman promotes the marriage of homeschool girls in their “middle-teens” to older men, endorsing an age difference, “even a significant one,” as making “for a better fit.” Matthew Chapman not only followed this advice in his own marriage, but also in marrying his daughter Lauren off immediately after her sixteenth birthday to a man of twenty-six.
What does this say of the Christian homeschooling movement?
…Where are the voices speaking out against this? Where are the Christian homeschooling leaders saying that this is wrong?
I’m searching for them, but I’m finding only crickets—crickets, and Matthew Chapman serving as keynote speaker at major Christian homeschooling conventions.
This makes me sick. Are we going back to tribal mores, handing over children as wives?
How on earth is this legal?
How horrible. I just read this article. It sounds like a bunch of men brain washing others so they can gain control a young woman to become the young housekeeper/cook/child bearer/sex toy. These sick men just want to stick their pickle in a younger jar.
I am truly wondering what The Champman’s lifestyle choices have to do with homeschooling itself? Just because he is speaking at one homeschool convention, and since no one knows what the topic is (it could be “How To Raise Toddlers With Happy Hearts”) how is this connected to homeschooling? My grandmother was married at 16 and so was my mother-in-law and my grandmother-in-law. So what???
So what..it is illegal….
But my question is, what does it have to do with homeschooling? Besides, it’s not illegal if you have parental consent.
I plan on attending this conference and protesting against the VILE man….
Hey — the fundamentalist Mormons have been marrying off 14-year-olds for decades, and nobody has lifted a finger to stop them.
American girls have zero protection against this stuff, especially when the patriarchs involved can so easily invoke their “religious freedom.” Apparently, we’ve decided that the religious freedom of grown men trumps the lifelong autonomy of young women every damned time.
I know the Chapmans. They are wonderful people who are so in love and happily married (20+ years) and who love Jesus. They are not part of the weird patriarchal movement or extreme fundamentalists. It hurts me for their sake’s to hear people refer to this gentle and kind man as ‘vile’, and to imply that Maranatha, one of the most mature and godly women I have ever met, is a sex toy who was married off against her wishes.
We are all one day going to be required to give account for every idle word to the Most High God – whether we believe in Him or not.
BTW – I am not a fundamentalist extremist. I wear pants, listen to Lacrae, and am an avid reader of Anne of Green Gables (whom I have heard is considered a hussy in some circles. 🙂 ).
I have known the Chapmans for years and I agree with everything “Friend” has said. I still don’t understand what their lifestyle choices have to do with anything.
No one in their lifestyle choice was force to do anything they didn’t want to do. It’s still a free country, right? Why does anyone else care so much?
Matthew does not teach that dads should marry off their underage daughters either. He just tells their story when requested. Besides, they have been happily married for years and have a beautiful, godly family.
I don’t get this uproar at all. I have seen way worse things to be upset with. Sheesh!
its funny you worry so much about a young girl making a commitnent to honor one man for the rest of her life, but dont mention the parents that advocate uncommited sex in this age group.that is whats sick. Look at the difference in the marriages. How long have the chapmans been married? And how often do the girls that sleep around at a young age can claim that? I say that the parents allowing promiscuity are the ones promoting sex slave trading,not the ones teaching their girls to be god loving wives. Ive been on both sides and i wish someone had cared sooner to tell me gods way is better.