Voddie Baucham, Daughters, and “Virgin Brides”

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on January 12, 2015.

Last summer, Michael Farris denounced patriarchy. Or, so he claimed.

Among those who homeschool for religious reasons, there is a subculture sometimes called the “patriarchy movement.” Michael Farris, founder of the powerful Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and probably the most well-known leader in the Christian homeschooling world, has for decades espoused the beliefs of this movement. But in the last year and a half, two of its leaders, Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, lost their ministries in the midst of sexual abuse scandals.

Last summer Farris issued a white paper that allowed him to throw Gothard and Phillips under the bus and portray himself as reasonable—the good guy in all of this. But not only did Farris make it clear that he does not understand what the word patriarchy means, he also started making exceptions right away, first and foremost for his friend Voddie Baucham, another leader in this movement. Farris pointed out that Voddie had recently enrolled his adult daughter, Jasmine, in a Christian online college program, which apparently (for Farris) makes him not patriarchal.

Who is this Voddie Baucham and what does he stand for?

Well.

To give you an idea, let me offer a page from Baucham’s 2009 book “What He Must Be . . . If He Wants to Marry My Daughter“:

baucham1

And here it is in text:

The first line of protection for our daughters is protecting their purity. Quite simply, our job as fathers is to present our daughters to their husbands as virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). I can hear the audible gasps as I write the Bible reference. More importantly, I understand the trepidation. Moses’ instructions in Deuteronomy 22 are downright horrifying. However, it is part of God’s revelation in the BIble and is thus worthy of our full attention.

But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

So Farris condemns patriarchy, but is willing to make cuddly with this guy.

At the moment, you’re probably simply on the edge of your seat, wondering what Baucham says next. I have that for you too:

baucham2

And here is the text:

Regardless of our revulsion at the idea of a woman being stoned for promiscuity, we cannot avoid the principle inherent in the text. The father is the one responsible for protecting his daughter’s virginity. This is evident for at least two reason. First, the father must provide evidence of his daughter’s virginity. Second, if there is no evidence, and the charges are true, the father must endure the shame and incomprehensible pain of the capital punishment of his daughter at his door!

Note that Baucham is primarily concerned with how hard it would be for the poor father to have his daughter stoned at the altar—not a thought is given to the daughter who is, you know, being stoned to death. Grrr.

Again, no one is arguing for the stoning of promiscuous young women whose lack of virginity is discovered on their wedding day. However, the timeless principle here is the responsibility of a father to present a virgin bride at the marriage altar.

This principle transcends the law/grace divide. This is true for all people in all places at all times. Nothing in the New Testament would remotely suggest that fathers are to stand down as the protectors of their daughters’ virginity. . . .

While the Deuteronomy passage deals with protecting virginity, Exodus 22 address the question of what a father is to do if his daughter loses her virginity.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with this idea, Baucham appears to be in the evangelical camp that believes the laws of the Old Testament are no longer binding, because we now live in the covenant of grace (rather than the covenant of the law), but that the Old Testament laws can still be instructive in understanding God’s character and desires. I was raised in this camp myself.

But you may now be wondering about the Exodus 22 passage Baucham mentioned.

baucham3

Here’s the text:

If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)

Note that the father has the right of refusal in this matter. The text is unambiguous. The man who seduces the virgin must answer to her father. Moreover, he must do right by the young woman and marry her, unless the father “utterly refuses to give her to him.” Note that the daughter does not give herself to the man in marriage; the father gives her to the man he deems appropriate.

When I talk about the patriarchy? This is what I’m talking about. Men like Baucham believe their adult daughters are bound to obey them in word and deed, and that they possess their daughters’ virginity to hand off to another when they choose. I’m lucky that my father was fairly introverted and hands off, but I still had a hell of a time with it when my courtship when rogue (or, to put it more specifically, when I took the reigns to my own love life).

And while Baucham is against stoning unmarried daughters who are sexually active, one wonders what he thinks should be done with them. It can’t be pretty.

Finally, note that the section above is followed with this heading:

A Patriarch Must Arrange for His Daughter’s Marriage by Finding a Suitable Husband and Making Proper Arrangements 

That is what we’re talking about here.

And yet, to Michael Farris, Baucham isn’t patriarchal. Right.

Drinking From the Final Straw

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Cynthia Jeub’s blog CynthiaJeub.com. It was originally published on February 25, 2015. 

Trigger warnings: alcohol abuse, child abuse, graphic descriptions

“We were addicted to the blueprint
But we threw it in the flames and now we’re never gonna trace it
You, you lied
Ha ha ha ha I was right all along
Good job, good job
You fucked it up…
Now you’re walking on your own
Rain falls down, I’m not answering my phone
I got to phase you out my zone
Hope you realize now that I am never coming home
You were meant to be alone.” –Charli XCX

I wrote a post on addictive personalities as a prerequisite to an element I haven’t talked about yet on my blog. Many people who were, like me, abused in the Christian-homeschool-patriarchy movement, still maintain at least moderately rocky relationships with their parents. I gave up, in the end, because of the events surrounding how my parents started drinking.

One day near the end of 2013, I visited my parents’ house. Mom was in bed, recovering from her last miscarriage. She’d saved the fetus, named him Ezra Mark, dressed him and taken pictures, and buried him in the backyard. What shocked me the most, though, was that she had a bottle of Jack Daniels on her nightstand.

“Mom, why do you have hard liquor? I’ve never seen alcohol in our house.”

She said something about dealing with the pain. She was referring to both the emotional pain of losing a child, and the physical pain of blood loss. She insisted, though, that she was only taking small amounts of it as a medicinal solution.

I accepted this answer. After all, I drink alcohol sometimes. I wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite.

On the 6th of January last year, mom’s sister Debbi died suddenly. She was only 52, and she’d practically raised my mom and her brothers and sisters, because my maternal grandmother was, as previously mentioned, addicted to alcohol. I asked for time off work so that I could travel to Minnesota for my aunt’s funeral.

Mom was losing both a sister and a surrogate mother, and she turned to alcohol with the shock and grief. I’d always taken care of my mom, but she was making me worried. We ordered drinks on the plane. When we got to my paternal grandparents’ house, she asked me to sneak more liquor for her from their cupboard. It didn’t matter what it was – she had no taste preference, it was to numb herself.

Within weeks of our return to Colorado, dad was drinking, too. They had wine regularly, and there was a twelve-pack of beer in the fridge. When I asked about it, mom said that since she couldn’t have kids anymore (a statement I never got full clarification for), it was okay to have alcohol now.

Again, I accepted this. I didn’t accept alcohol for myself until I realized there was space between alcoholics and people who completely abstained. The problem was, mom and dad had never seen someone demonstrate moderate drinking. I assumed that they only drank when I was there, which was once or twice a week.

Once in the spring, we built a bonfire in the backyard and roasted marshmallows. Dad was acting strangely – less mature than the kids. He wanted to burn a whole door, and he threw it on the fire, scattering sparks and making the fire spread and smother. When I told him he was being dangerous, he laughed at me. My brothers and I nervously sat him down and contained the fire ourselves. It would take me months to look back on that night and realize dad had had at least three drinks, and was playing with fire around children.

By the time I started to get suspicious, I realized my parents were showing all the red flags of addiction: denial, minimization, and defensiveness.

Lydia was living with them again, but only kind of. She slept on the floor in the girls’ bedroom for a month, so technically she didn’t have to pay $500 rent. Mom sometimes lamented that Lydia didn’t have a bed to sleep in, but Lydia knew she didn’t mean it. She lived there to be around the kids. I couldn’t take the way I felt suffocated there.

Lydia started counting drinks when she wasn’t busy with work. Dad said to her, “I’m not an alcoholic, I just have a couple of beers in the evening.” Whenever Lydia voiced criticism about the alcohol, dad took her outside and yelled at her – for the first time in her life, he swore at her regularly. My parents weren’t being themselves, and it was getting dangerous.

Dangerous, because if you can’t admit that you’ve had a few drinks, you can’t admit that you need to wait before driving, or stay away from fire. Responsible drinkers keep count and stay accountable. The house felt less and less safe.

The last day went something like this…

I come in the house on a Thursday.
Mom offers me wine.
I turn her down, saying I try not to drink more than once every two weeks.
She looks hurt and suspicious, like I’m putting myself above her.
She adds what would have been my serving to her half-drank glass.
I start counting mentally: that’s two glasses of wine altogether for her, and it’s 5 p.m.
I offer to help with dinner, we talk about work and how my therapy is going.
I give vague, slow answers to her questions.
I watch as she drinks half the glass again, and refills it.
It’s a clever way to lose count.
Meanwhile, dad is outside at the grill.
He’s finished a beer when mom brings him his wine.
When we sit down to eat, mom’s wine glass is full again, and dad is drinking from a non-transparent covered cup.
I wait for him to get up, then I taste his drink. It’s kombucha mixed with wine.
He can’t possibly be drinking for the taste.
It’s 9 p.m. now. They’re both still unfinished with their wine glasses when we do family prayers, bless and kiss the children, and send them to bed.
Dad asks Lydia and me if we want to play a game.
We say no.
Yes, I think you do, he counters.
We really don’t.
But we don’t even know what the game is, he says.
We say it’s obvious that he wants to play a drinking game, and we’re not interested.
He looks dejected and rather disbelieves that we’ve just said no to him.
Before I leave that night, I ask mom: “Do you drink every night?”
She laughs loudly. It’s pretentious and insulted.
“Of course we don’t!”
I turn to my 12-year-old sister and murmur in a lower tone: “Do they drink every night?”
She nods slightly so mom doesn’t see.
The next time I visit, they don’t serve alcoholic beverages.
It’s like they’re trying to prove without words that they don’t drink every night.
It’s too late.

It was early September when Grandma – my dad’s mom, Judy – messaged me to ask how I was doing. I opted for honesty, and told her everything. She used to be an alcoholic, and she’d been a sober AA member for as long as I could remember. She saw what her and her husband’s alcoholism did to her kids. Surely she’d understand that something needed to be done so my parents didn’t hurt her grandkids.

She called me, and I told her what was happening. She said it sounded like alcohol abuse that had gone on for nearly a year, but she conservatively chose not to call it addiction.

She also questioned the validity of my story, because I was only going off hearsay from my siblings and extrapolation. I wasn’t living there and I couldn’t watch my parents all the time, so I couldn’t be sure.

Grandma said she was worried about my parents, since their alcohol use indicated stress.

“But Grandma,” I asked, upset now, “What about the kids? Aren’t you worried about them, too?”

“Well,” she said slowly, “I think you and your sisters have turned out okay. I’m amazed at the resilience I’ve seen in you and your siblings.”

“So you’re more concerned about my parents than about the kids.”

“I’m concerned about my son, and as a parent I want to know why he’s so stressed.”

“Well Grandma, that’s not good enough for me. I’m concerned about my brothers and sisters who are stuck there, and it’s not safe. What am I supposed to do?”

This part of the conversation was well-practiced for her. “I’ve worked with recovering addicts for decades, and we always learn the serenity prayer, do you know it?”

“Yes, I know it. I don’t think it applies here, Grandma.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

I burst into tears, and for the first time in my life, I vented my full anger at an elder in my family. Elders are to be respected, never contradicted. I broke protocol. “No, Grandma! I do not need you to tell me to answer this with prayer and acceptance! That is not what I need right now!”

She was quick to backpedal, rephrasing her words, trying to find some other practiced line that would please me. I realized that my dad had learned his habit of using all the right words from his mother.

Nobody was going to help me or listen. So I blogged about my parents being abusive. Grandma told me she felt like her heart was going to break, and I didn’t respond. If her heart could break and she could still treat my trapped siblings with indifference, I had no reason not to hurt her feelings.

The day before my dad released the podcast responding to my blog post “Melting Memory Masks”, I met with one of my brothers for lunch. He told me the alcohol was gone. Dad had thrown all of it out, saying that if it meant so much to Lydia and me, it wasn’t worth keeping. I asked why dad didn’t say that to me directly. My brother didn’t know.

Alcohol was the breaking point. It’s what made me realize that I had so few allies in my family, and that I needed to get away for myself. That’s what made 2014 different from all the years before it.

The Curse of Being Bound to an Image

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Jen Linfield Photography. Image links to source.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Jen Linfield Photography. Image links to source.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sarah Henderson’s blog Feminist in Spite of Them. It was originally published on her blog on February 2, 2015.

It’s been over nine years since I left my parents and over time my perception of how much progress I’ve made in my life has changed many times, fluctuating between sometimes thinking I am doing a terrible job at being an adult and sometimes thinking I am doing well. Through some enlightening conversations I’ve had recently with my friend James, who is in my cohort of ex-fundamentalists, I’ve come to realize that in spite of everything that I re-evaluated and realized since I left, I missed a very important thing. (I am not going to say that I missed one very important thing because I am sure that there are other things I’ve missed as well.)

Here it is: we were raised to believe that there is a pre-set standard for what adulthood should look like.

I was given to understand that I should grow up and get married at age 18-21, give or take, and after that point I should be completely mature and adult. There would be no need for further growth or any further emotional development. I should have my spirituality completed settled and sorted out, and I should not be different in any way, other than age, from any other married woman who was, say 40  or 50 (the same message was given to young men, although it was gendered differently).

There is a small inconsistency in this idea because older people are assumed to have more wisdom if they are telling you something they think you should do differently, but other than that, young adults were expected to be completely mature.

To get a somewhat more rounded idea of what other people (who were not raised in fundamentalist homes) internalized regarding expectations of how adulthood should unfold, I have spoken to several other people in my life. First, I asked my husband Chris what messages he received from his family on this topic.  He was raised in a fairly “average” home, if there is such a thing. He said that he wasn’t taught specifically that he needed to have his life together at a certain age. Instead, his family taught him life skills that were needed. His parents have supported him and his siblings in making their different choices, and when something hasn’t worked out the way they were hoping, his parents supported them again in making new choices. His parents have shown me the same kind of supportive attitude, when I have had hopes and dreams that didn’t work out. They tend to meet us where we are at, and while they give advice and input, they only show support to their adult children when they are struggling; they do not say guilt-inducing things, or say that they are disappointed in their children.

I also spoke to my friend Amber about her understanding of her parents’ attitudes about emotional and lifestyle development and this is what she had to say: her parents strongly encouraged her to start working early, to learn how to have a source of income and how to manage money. If she wanted money for extras, she needed to earn it. She was also strongly encouraged to go to enter some form of higher learning (apprenticeship, college, etc) right out of high school; her parents felt that this was a good idea to avoid becoming involved with other things instead of finishing school or an apprenticeship, as it is more difficult to finish pursuing such goals when you are married, have a mortgage, or have children. Her parents demonstrated what a good relationship should look like and what to expect; but they had no expectation that their children should have a partner at a certain age or have kids at a certain age. Her parents also taught her and her brother that women should be respected, and are equals, and encouraged her to be independent. She says that it was expected that she wouldn’t settle for anything less than a partner who treated her as an equal, showed her the respect she deserved, and loved her more than anything else.

In terms of emotional maturity Amber and her brother were able to go to their parents for anything, and her parents expressed that they felt that it was their life duty to look after their children, even now (Amber’s brother is now in his 30’s). Her parents have modeled for her that even parents don’t need to be independent, allowing her to see their vulnerability in a safe way. As Amber and her brother have gotten older, they are there for their parents for support and advice sometimes, when applicable, as well as their parents continuing to support them,  Her parents encouraged her to understand that there are life stages and people change and adapt over time. They encouraged her to take her own path, and made it clear that if her chosen path was to change, that would be okay too. She said that above all, the message she received was that she should pursue what she wanted. I asked her if, in her experience as part of society (in a secular “average” household) this is a typical message for young people to receive, and she said that within her circle growing up, and other people she has known since then, it appears to be typical.

In a recent conversation with one of my sisters, we were talking about her life plans and I asked her when she thought she should have her “stuff” together. She told me that she figures she should be well on her way with her life plan by 21. She has a pretty good idea of how the next 8 years should unfold, and strong expectations about what she should accomplish in that time. When I was 20, I thought that by the time I was 25, I should have my career down pat (which was still ironic for me at that point in time since according to my parents, there was no intention for me, as a woman, to have a career at all), and I should certainly have everything in my head settled and sorted by the time I was 25. I have struggled quite a bit with certain things since leaving my family, but I believed there was a deadline for dealing with those issues.

I thought that I should have the perfect relationship, which would turn into the perfect marriage. I thought I should sail smoothly through school and within six months, I should land a good job and get established in my career. I should start a family and never struggle with my past issues again. Overall, I have a good life, things just haven’t all worked out quite as smoothly as I thought that they would, if I tried hard enough. My career hasn’t taken off quite the way I was hoping. I struggled a lot with feeling ready to want children, because of what I went through a child. I was talking to my sister Natalie about this, and she pointed out that when our parents reached this age and stage in their lives, they chose Patriarchy and Quiverfull ideology, rather than sticking it out and trying to succeed in the 80’s when professionalism was taking off for both men and women. (Note: I feel comfortable saying that my parents did not succeed, since both of them have been unemployed for the greater part of the past 30 years).

The pressure that was put on me to have children, by my parents and the ideology they adopted, has also contributed to feelings of failure as an adult, as I am now 26 and do not have children.

I made a difficult decision to share this next bit on my blog, because I feel that it is not talked enough about and I feel that hearing about this may be good for others who have gone through the same thing as I did. I decided last summer that I was ready to have children. My husband and I had been talking about it for several years, and I finally felt like I was ready to take that step. So I went off birth control and we started trying. In October, 2014, I got pregnant, but by December I had a second ultrasound that showed that I had miscarried. That didn’t fit into what I thought my life plan should be.

Having the miscarriage brought up a lot of pain for me, which meant that I had to face that I hadn’t wished away my struggles from the past. I have a lot of painful memories from when I was a child. My childhood memories were linked to the idea of having my own children in a way that I think is reasonable. I get triggered by things sometimes, which is difficult. I had this idea that I needed to put those feelings and memories aside, and move on in my head. I am not talking about healing, I am talking about forcing it away. And I really tried to do that. I wanted to. I wanted to live a life where the things that happened to me, didn’t happen. But that’s not true, that stuff did happen. I survived. But not without scars. There is still some pain and some struggles. Some bad days. And somehow, that is okay. It’s sad that I had a miscarriage. But there is lots of time for me to heal from that and move forward.

I’ve come to realize that people I know, who weren’t raised like I was, think that it is okay to start their lives out slowly and work their way up to where they want to go. They think that it is okay to be more mature at 25 than they were at 20, and to be more mature and established at 30 than 25, and more mature and established when they are 40 then when they were 30. To see life as an unfolding story. Not one that you have to finish writing by age 20 or 25.

This is the curse of being bound to an image of what your life should look like. I am shocked to have realized at age 26 that I had never re-evaluated my feelings about my life path and the messages that I received about it. I have re-thought so much, and somehow I missed this huge piece of what life is all about. But it’s not too late. I hope that by sharing my husband’s and my friend’s thoughts on their parents’ attitudes, I can show that not everyone thinks this way. It is so easy (and so frustrating) to feel that you have gotten all the way out of fundamentalism but still be hanging onto an image or a timeline of how your life should be, that is not based in reality or has nothing to do with what you want in your life.

Discovering who you are and what you want, and pursuing that for yourself, is such an essential part of the human experience. It’s too big to miss out on. It’s still important for me to be functional. I still want to keep actively pursuing my goals. But I am going to let myself of the hook a little, and not count set-backs at 26 as a sign of global failure in my life. It just means that I am so much younger than I realized.

I have so much more time than I realized. There is lots of time for success. 

Rethinking The “Proverbs 31 Woman”

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Chetan. Image links to source.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Chetan. Image links to source.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on July 29, 2011.

There’s something troubling me about a teaching going around.

I’ll probably be preaching to the choir here but on the chance that someone reads this who has swallowed said teaching, I need to give them a dose of reality.

The teaching goes something like this: Girls need protection, physical and spiritual. That’s why they need to stay home under their father’s protection until they can be safely entrusted to their husband’s protection. The extent to which this is fleshed out is different from family to family, but that’s the jist of the teaching.

So what about it? This idea of women needing “protection” is being used to keep them from going to college, getting jobs, and going on missionary trips, among other things. They are told that they are gullible, weak-minded, easily led, and not to be trusted on their own because they are easily deceived and taken advantage of. They need a strong man to come between them and the world.

Besides the fact that I see absolutely no scriptural backing for this idea, I can’t help but think that whoever came up with it doesn’t live in the real world.

I’ve heard so many use this as an excuse for why a woman shouldn’t go off to college. Because then she’ll be “alone” and without protection. What if her car breaks down? What if she has to go shopping in a bad part of town? What if something goes wrong and Daddy isn’t there to rescue her? Or a shady mechanic tries to rip her off?

My husband’s a trucker. I’m “alone” from about Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon every week during the summer. I have to fend for myself and three kids. I sleep alone, a gun nearby, knowing there may come a night I’ll have to use it (and trust me, I can use it better than most men I know). I have to make all the decisions on how to run my house alone. I have to be mature and interact with the world around me (including men and atheists *gasp*) alone. I have to be discerning all by myself, able to judge right and wrong, wise and foolish. If I break down on the side of the road, my husband isn’t there to “protect” or rescue me. I have to deal with it as if I were single. I have to be strong and capable and mature and independent every single day. My husband leaves every week depending on me to be all these things and more. If I had an emergency, it could be 12+ hours before my husband could get to me. He didn’t need a girl who needed to be coddled, needed someone to make decisions for her, needed to be “led” and guided in daily interactions like a child. He needed a mature woman who could handle an imperfect life. And it’s a darn good thing that I didn’t spend my growing up years thinking I needed a man to handle my life or come between me and the big bad world. I had to learn how to be a functioning part of society and take care of myself and others.

My family’s well-being depends on this. 

I know girls who weren’t allowed to go grocery shopping, in a safe small town, without their dad or big brother for “protection”. They weren’t allowed to go anywhere without a man, for that matter. Their view of the Big Bad Men in the world they needed to be protected from has grown into a paranoia. They’re scared of their own shadows. They think all men are out to rape them or take advantage of them. And they truly believe they are gullible, weak, and cannot handle life on their own, because that’s the line they’ve been fed all their lives. It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As my friend, Christi, said in comment to this idea:

This is exactly what patriarchy wants us to believe, that women are weak-minded things incapable of avoiding dangerous situation. I lived alone …and I never found myself in a compromising position. And how would a predator know whether a woman lived at home with her parents, or with her husband, or lived “alone” (with roommates)? 

And while we’re talking about this, why don’t people realize that homemakers are some of the most “alone” and vulnerable women out there? You seem to not realize that married young women have to do the exact same things that young women who are away at college have to do, and more. I have to go out and do my shopping alone, just like a college girl would (though I imagine that college girls get to carpool together). What’s more, I’m even at home alone. I’m pretty sure that I’d really be better protected on a college campus since I’m alone during the day (and night, since my husband works until 11 PM) and have often had to interact with strange men, sometimes even inside my house, while my husband is at work. Apartment maintenance men, internet guy, phone guy, UPS man, door-to-door salesmen, etc. Oh, and it’s usually my job to take our car in for repairs and oil changes. Car repairmen are actually pretty nice, or maybe it depends on where you go (which again, is simply a matter of making an intelligence choice). 

I mean no disrespect to my husband when I say this but, he’s really not here a lot to protect me because he’s busy working a full-time job in addition to being a full-time student. My marriage license doesn’t really afford me any more physical protection than I had when I was single.

You see, it is complete folly to train up a person to be completely dependent on another person.

You have no idea what their life is going to be like.

No idea what skills they’re going to need to provide for themselves or the people they love. No idea if they will get married, then widowed. Or even if they will marry at all. To raise a girl with the belief that she is weak and needs a man to be her mediator in life is to cripple her for life. To render her ineffective to do anything for herself or for the God that she’s supposed to be “glorifying”.

I know girls my age who are single and still at home with their parents, being told that they need to be “protected” and watched over until they get married and all that jazz. But guess what? I’m married and I’m still on my own. Age and marital status aren’t the magic keys to a perfect life. They are just used as excuses for controlling the lives of these girls. Real life doesn’t look anything like what the Patriarchy crowd are trying to say it does. Their view is way too narrow. Ask a soldier’s wife. Or a trucker’s wife. Or any woman who is married or single and has to be a mature adult and deal with the world on her own. Whose husband and children and lives depend on it.

I love it when my husband is home and able to take care of things so I don’t have to. I love being cared for and knowing that I don’t have to do everything by myself. I love feeling loved and protected by my man, just as much as he loves me caring for him. I love sleeping peacefully at night, knowing he’s right there and I don’t have to be so alert. But I also love knowing that should he not be there, I can still take care of myself and my children.

One last thought. You know that popular verse in Proverbs 31 that says “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.”? Go look up the Hebrew word translated “virtuous”. It’s most often used in the OT to describe might, strength, fighting men of valor, army men, efficiency, wealth, strength and force. It is translated all these ways: army 56 times, man of valour 37 times, host 29 times, forces 14 times, valiant 13 times, strength 12 times, power 9 times, substance 8 times, might 6 times, strong 5 times, and a few miscellaneous words.

Gives you a rather different picture of what a “Proverbs 31 woman” looks like, doesn’t it?

Ken Cuccinelli, HSLDA, and Identification Abuse

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a homeschooling father and long-time political favorite of homeschooling leaders.

He has keynoted for Generation Joshua, HSLDA’s youth mobilization organization. And to return the favor, 200 Generation Joshua participants — funded by HSLDA’s political action committee — launched “an early deployment to work with the Cuccinelli campaign [for the Virginia Governorship]” in 2013. This deployment was codenamed “Operation: Shock and Awe” and paired with a Mission Impossible-themed video:

HSLDA’s support of Cuccinelli has a long history. In 2002, HSLDA founder Michael Farris officially endorsed his campaign for the Virginia State Senate. Farris declared that, “I fully endorse Ken and hope that those who believe that standing for principle is the only practical way to preserve our Republic will support him enthusiastically.” In 2012, Farris’s Patrick Henry College invited Cuccinelli to deliver the commencement address.

It is curious to note, therefore, that HSLDA favorite Ken Cuccinelli has publicly spoken out in favor of denying children identification documents.

The recent situation with homeschool alumna Alecia Pennington, who has struggled to prove her American identity and citizenship because of identification abuse, highlights just how problematic such a position is. But as recently as 2010, Cuccinelli gave a speech saying he was considering not getting his newest child a Social Security card because the government uses such cards to “to track you.” He also claimed this was becoming a more popular decision.

You can watch the video below:

Text of the video is:

We’re gonna have our 7th child on Monday, if he’s not born before. And, for the very concerns you state, we’re actually considering – as I’m sure many of you here didn’t get a Social Security number when you were born, they do it now – we’re considering not doing that. And a lot of people are considering that now, because it is being used to track you.

Interestingly, HSLDA recently declared that they would provide assistance to any homeschool alumni who are battling the very situation into which Cuccinelli was considering putting his own son (and encouraging others to put their own children into as well). They also declared they knew of no alumni actually in such situations. In a public statement made on their Facebook page, HSLDA declared the following:

HSLDA Senior Counsel Jim Mason learned of Alecia’s story soon after her video was posted. He contacted her and offered to help. As of this time, Alecia has not taken HSLDA up on the offer. We understand that conflicts between parents and their adult children can be complicated, and that we likely do not know all of the facts in Alecia’s situation. But we do support homeschool graduates’ right to have an identity, get a job, and fully participate in society. In over 30 years of defending homeschoolers, we have never seen allegations like the ones in this situation. We encourage homeschool graduates who encounter problems with documentation, diploma validation issues, or discrimination in employment or postsecondary education to contact us for assistance. We want to help if we can.

As the public cases of Alecia Pennington, Cynthia Jeub, and Eleanor Skelton demonstrate, denying or witholding identification documents from one’s children creates significant problems for homeschool alumni. It is also sadly not uncommon. According to HARO’s 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement, out of 3703 respondents, 3.65% (or 135 respondents) experienced some form of identification abuse. Numerous testimonies from homeschool alumni denied identification documents can be seen at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education’s website.

According to HARO’s recent 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling,

The problem of identification abuse disproportionately impacts individuals who identify as female; this disproportionate impact seems to correlate with families adhering to the ideology of Christian patriarchy, as numerous stories of identification abuse reference gender roles and the stay-at-home-daughter movement. Furthermore, the most common reason for parents withholding an adult child’s identification documents is control: control of the adult child and that adult child’s future decisions.

It is irresponsible of Cuccinelli to put his child in such a situation, and HSLDA — if they are going to live up to their promise to help alumni suffering from identification abuse — needs to publicly condemn such a position. As HARO’s 2015 survey concluded,

Membership in HSLDA does not protect against identification abuse. This should highlight to not only HSLDA as a homeschool movement leader, but also HARO as an advocacy organization as well as all homeschooling communities, that awareness and education about the importance of procuring identification documents for one’s children is vitally important. That importance should be communicated from all levels of homeschooling power structures. Such structures should also encourage families to procure such documentation. The future health and well-being of homeschool alumni depends on it.

10 Things Your [ex]Fundy Almost-Ex Husband Will Do During Your Divorce

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The following post was submitted to HA by an anonymous contributor.

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1) Pretend nothing is wrong when you tell him things aren’t working until you start making changes to make yourself happier and saner. And then he’ll snap.

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2) When you suggest finding a therapist, he’ll tell you you don’t need meds and suggest that maybe you should try talking to your pastor instead.

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3) Finally starts listening to things you’ve been saying for months, and abruptly co-opts feminist lingo and tells you that you’re gaslighting and oppressing him because you’re calling him on his shit.

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4) Gets angry and resentful when he learns that (since you’re not allowed to go to a therapist) you’re talking to your mombest friendnon-Christian yoga buddy about your marriage problems.

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5) Offers to sit down and make a list of ways he wants to change and make you feel more secure in your relationship. Tries to follow through for 3-5 days. Stops following through and tells you it’s just too hard to please you.

 

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6) Agrees to try something sexually experimental for your marital track record. Freaks out when it’s too good or makes him realize he’s probably bi. Stops initiating sex, until he realizes other men find you attractive. Suggests a fuck-buddies relationship with no strings attached if you break up. Get angry when you say no.

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7) Does something out of character and surprising right before pulling the plug. This may be violence, a one-night stand, financial rashness, stalking you, or some other risky and reckless activity. Refuses to see a problem with his choice when you lay out the negative ramifications these actions have for you. Because autonomy.

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8) Gets irrationally fixated and obsessed with the idea that you are abusive andor cheating on him. Tells his pastorparents that you’re abusive. Especially because you’re crying a lot and it makes him uncomfortable. Accuses you of having an affair.

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9) Gets surprisingly petty about dividing up stuff and suddenly cares about things you didn’t think he remembered you owning. Gets malicious about making the process as difficult for you as possible in revenge for making him Feel Things. Accuses you of depriving him of fatherhood by not being willing to try to make a baby as a last-ditch effort to save the relationship.

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10) Moves on to someone who doesn’t make him think or feel uncomfortable about himself at all, a lot more quickly than you think he should. Blocks you on social media when he starts posting pictures with her.

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CHEA Rejects HARO Exhibitor Application Over “Philosophical Difference”

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), California’s statewide Christian homeschool organization, rejected Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out‘s (HARO) application to exhibit at their July 2015 convention in Pasadena, CA, keynoted by Israel Wayne and Norm Wakefield. HARO had applied to exhibit its free child abuse awareness curriculum as well as provide physical copies of that curriculum free of charge to convention attendees. Gerald McKoy, President of CHEA, cited “duplicative” efforts in the area of child abuse awareness and prevention as well as “a significant philosophical difference between” HARO and CHEA.

The text of CHEA’s rejection letter from McKoy follows:

Thank you for your request to exhibit at our convention. Like you, CHEA is very concerned about all forms of child abuse, and we appreciate your concern in this area.

However, we will not be able to accommodate your request to exhibit your curriculum at our convention. This is for two main reasons: 1) we feel this is duplicative of our current efforts in this area, and 2) we feel there is a significant philosophical difference between your organization and ours.

CHEA is concerned for all victims of child abuse of any kind, whether in a homeschooling family or not. Unfortunately, this is a problem in our culture as a whole, which we believe is a direct result of sin in our world—”all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”—not specific to the homeschooling community. Many studies have been conducted regarding the presence of abuse in our society, and we are grieved that this is a problem that is present in the homeschooling community as well.

CHEA maintains a webpage within the Leadership portion of its website to assist member leaders in this area. We are working to improve and update that area, and we are also in the process of publishing materials for all of our members regarding the problem of child abuse and the signs to be aware of in recognizing it.

We also recognize a significant philosophical difference between CHEA and Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out and its affiliated website Homeschoolers Anonymous.

Again, CHEA remains adamantly opposed to any form of child abuse in families that homeschool and those who do not. CHEA will continue its efforts to educate its members and member organizations in recognizing signs of abuse and the proper response to such signs. We wish you the best in your efforts to protect children.

For the Board of Directors,

Gerald McKoy

President

CHEA

While I encouraged to hear the organization aims to make better efforts to educate members about child abuse, I am saddened that McKoy and the other Board Directors of CHEA chose to provide a nebulous “philosophical difference” as reason to reject HARO’s application. No member of CHEA’s board made an effort to contact HARO to discuss what this difference is; thus, HARO is unaware of the content of that objection. Furthermore, my father personally served CHEA for several years as their convention organizer, so I am not unfamiliar with the organization. I fondly remember spending summer weekends at CHEA conventions, helping my father set up and tear down the events. I would have been happy to discuss any potential disagreements.

Finally, it is important to point out that “duplicative efforts” in the area of child abuse awareness and prevention should be more than welcomed in the homeschooling world. This topic has been sorely neglected for decades and we need as many efforts to rectify this silence as possible. It is not a topic that should be relegated to Leadership-only sections on websites. It should be broadcast loudly for all homeschool parents and communities to hear. We must do this work together, as leaders, parents, and — most often neglected — as alumni who understand a different side to homeschooling.

This is the second convention that has rejected HARO’s request to exhibit, following the Great Homeschool Conventions’ retraction last year.

I hope and pray that others will be more receptive in the future.

Full image of CHEA’s letter follows:

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Identity as Means of Control: Results from the 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling

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By the HARO Team

The 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling is an informal survey conducted by Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) of homeschool alumni who experienced identification abuse. HARO’s purpose is to advocate for the wellbeing of homeschool students and improve homeschooling communities through awareness, peer support, and resource development.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 12.55.04 PMWhile this was not a formal survey, our goal is to get a better picture of identification abuse within homeschooling and collect stories about such abuse. Identification abuse, also known as identity or ID abuse, was previously defined by HARO’s 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement as one’s parent, guardian or primary caretaker “not providing you with, withholding, or destroying any of your identification documents: driver’s license, social security card, etc.” The 2014 survey found that, out of 3703 homeschool alumni, 3.65% (or 135 respondents) experienced some form of identification abuse. There are also a plethora of stores onlinefrom alumni who have experienced this, including high profile cases like Cynthia Jeub and Alecia Pennington. Thus we desired to get better information about this phenomenon.

To take the 2015 survey, respondents had to be at least 18 years of age and have been homeschooled for at least a year. The survey opened on SurveyMonkey on February 12, 2015 and closed on February 17, 2015. 68 individuals took the survey. U.S. states represented by respondents include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, Other places of residence represented include Nova Scotia and Ontario. Several individuals were also from military families that frequently moved.

To download the results from HARO’s survey, click the link below:

Identity as Means of Control: Results from the 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling

Lisa Pennington on Adult Children, Maturity, and Drivers’ Licenses

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on February 13, 2015 and has been slightly modified for reprinting here.

Lisa Pennington began deleting posts on her blog, The Pennington Post, after her daughter, Alecia Faith, went public with the message that her parents were preventing her from proving her identity. It seems Lisa has realized that her posts—especially those on parenting adult children—seem rather to corroborate Alecia Faith’s story. Fortunately, we have urls and the wayback machine. To quote a friend of mine, “don’t they know the internet is forever?”

I wanted to take a moment to share one more thing I found on Lisa’s blog:

I didn’t write my regular, fascinating Monday update yesterday because I was driving.

In fact, have been driving for the past 2 days and sadly I am the only driver in this bunch.  Our belief in not letting our kids learn to drive until they are mature and enough to carry that responsibility comes back to bite me when I’m on one of these road trips.  I find myself thinking, “I wonder if I could just plop one of the girls in front of the wheel on a long stretch of nothing and tell her to hit the gas.”

This post is from June 24, 2014, a mere eight months ago, three months before Alecia Faith left home, unannounced.

Alecia Faith’s sister Grace commented on my blog the other day, stating that she is the oldest and is 24. Thus if we are generous, when this post went up last summer, Lisa’s oldest child was 23. Alecia Faith was 18 when she moved out and is now 19, so at the time of this post she would have been 18. Alecia Faith is the fourth child in her family, meaning that there were two more siblings between age 18 and 23.

Lisa says they believe in “not letting” their kids learn to drive until they are “mature . . . enough to carry that responsibility.” You may wonder how Lisa can prevent her adult children from getting their drivers licenses until she believes they are ready. Well, when children don’t have birth certificates or social security numbers (and both Grace and her brother Jacob confirmed that this was the case) they can’t exactly get drivers licenses on their own. When (and if) they could do so rested in their parents’ hands.

Lisa states that they believe in not letting their children learn to drive until they are “mature . . . enough to carry that responsibility,” and given that at this point she hadn’t let any of her adult children get their drivers’ licenses we can assume that she didn’t not believe any of them were mature enough. If you do not believe that your adult children, aged approximately 23, 21, 20, and 18, are mature enough to drive, the problem is not with them, it’s with you. Either you completely messed up in raising them, or you are vastly underestimating their maturity (or vastly overestimating the maturity needed to drive).

Being able to drive is incredibly important. In most of the United States, it is almost impossible to gain any sort of independence without being able to drive. Alecia Faith lists Kerrville, Texas, as her hometown. Kerrville appears to be a fairly rural town of 20,000 with no public transportation.

Not being able to drive in a town like this would be crippling.

Of course, two months later, in August 2014, Lisa speaks of her children borrowing her car and writes that her two oldest children are saving to by a car. In her comment on my blog, Grace says that she and her brother Jacob, who is the second child in the family, both have their drivers licenses. She writes that her parents helped walk both of them through the necessary paperwork. It appears, then, that at some point last summer Lisa determined that her two oldest children, aged 23 and either 21 or 22, were finally mature enough to drive.

Let me think for a moment of the things I did when I was 23. Wow. I’d done a lot by that time! I had been driving for six years and I had graduated from college with honors. I had applied for and been accepted into a graduate program at a good university. I had gotten married and had birthed my first child, with all of the medical bills and documentation that involved. My husband was no older than I, yet we had moved across the state and located an apartment and obtained our own rental insurance and health insurance and life insurance and car insurance.

I understand that Grace has self-published several novels and I don’t want to demean her accomplishments. She also states that she has plans to move out of her parents’ home and live a more normal life, and I am happy for her. But I can’t help but feel that preventing an adult child from getting her driver’s license until she is 23 on the grounds that she is not “mature” enough to drive is something worse than terrible parenting. It is actively holding your child back and squashing her potential. I am glad Grace now has her driver’s license, but she should have had the ability to obtain it years ago.

Grace claimed in her comment that her family is trying to help Alecia Faith by looking for documents to prove her existence, but have not been able to find any. But if Lisa and her husband were able to come up with the documentation to prove Grace and Jacob’s identity, there should be documents to prove Faith’s identity as well. Note that while her parents are saying they are willing to help, they are also saying that they do not have any documents. At this point, it appears that Alecia Faith’s grandparents have signed an affidavit for her, and that only one affidavit is needed, so while her parents claim they are willing to sign an affidavit that is irrelevant at this point. What is needed is other documents—and her parents are saying those don’t exist. But somehow, they existed for Grace and for Jacob. Is it just me, or something weird going on here?

Grace also claims that her parents were trying to help Alecia Faith get her license last summer before she left. I find it a bit strange that Lisa would suddenly decide that three of her children were old enough to drive, and that she would be willing to obtain a driver’s license for her 18 year old after making her oldest child wait until she was 23 before deciding she was mature enough, though people do strange things so this may be true. But Grace seems to use this information as proof that it was unreasonable for Alecia Faith to move out. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. First, Alecia Faith had no guarantee that her parents would actually obtain the license, and second, Alecia had reached the age of majority and was within her rights to move out.

I want to be clear that this isn’t an isolated thing.

When a parent home births and homeschools, they have total control over their children’s documents (including control over the very existence of those documents).

I grew up knowing several homeschooling families that didn’t obtain social security numbers for their children. Even birth certificates were something you could forego if you picked the right midwife. Most homeschoolers obtain both birth certificates and social security numbers for their children—mine did, for example—so don’t think I’m saying this is all that common. What I am saying is that home birthing and homeschooling gives parents the ability to deprive their children of these documents in a way that they could not if they didn’t home birth and homeschool—and some parents, like Alecia Faith’s, take advantage of that.

Children who attend public school can obtain copies of their transcripts years later. Homeschool alumni have to get those from their parents. In most cases this isn’t a problem, but when parents are controlling and manipulative, it can be a huge problem. I know someone who lived at home until she was 23 because her parents kept promising to give her her homeschool diploma and transcript, stringing her along for years. I know someone else whose parents told her they would only give her a diploma and transcript of she agreed to go to the Christian college they had picked out. You can read more stories like this here.

In her own comment on my post, a Christian homeschooling blogger stated this:

You understate how controlling Lisa is. It’s shocking really. I know because we used to be friends. 

This blogger chose to remove this comment, so I am not going to name her here. But to me, this rather confirms what I said earlier—that Alecia Faith would not have left home unannounced if she didn’t have reason for doing so. Her older sister Grace wrote in her comment that she is making plans to move out herself, but then, she is 24 and the move has not yet taken place yet. Besides, I could see Alecia Faith’s parents realizing that they need to loosen up a bit on their older children or they risk losing them as they lost Alecia Faith, so things may be different in the home than they were when Alecia Faith fled.

In summary, any parent willing to actively prevent a child from getting her drivers license until she is 23 on the grounds that she is not “mature” enough to drive is extremely controlling and manipulative.

I am very glad Alecia Faith managed to get out. You go, Alecia Faith!

I Am The Story

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Refracted Moments. Image links to source.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Refracted Moments. Image links to source.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on February 5, 2015.

A blank page.

Kind of like my life before others drew on it.

31 years old and I am only beginning to write my own story on my own pages in a book that is no longer blank but filled with the scrawls of everyone else I allowed to scratch with pen and ink.

This was my story, written for me, but not written by me.

I was told god would write my story. I was told that others could write it better than I, could write the words god wanted but that I was too naive and immature and untrustworthy to write myself. They were the scribes, I was the submissive blank pages, god was the dictator. But there is no dictator and the ones that placed themselves as scribes could not control the unruly characters and the story line, and had no idea where the ending was or what would happen in the middle pages. They didn’t know the first thing about the character I am. They made a mess of the blank pages that were my soul and life and I let them. 

But no longer.

I am left now holding the pen in my own hand, after wrenching it out of the hands of previous scribes. I hover above a page no longer blank, full of crossed-out words that can never quite be made good enough or erased, their indents and marks evident and plenty. A story that looks out of control, about a character I don’t recognize. Yet here I am, turning that page to find the next one blank and the possibilities endless. And it is both frightening and exhilarating.

Because now I am the dictator and I am the scribe and I am the story.

What will be written from now on will be written by my own hand, in the language of my own soul, and my character is born again.

I cannot change what was written both by my consent and without it, and perhaps I don’t want to, since who I am is the product of what has been written, and who can go back and predict an unwritten future?

But I control what gets written from now until the day I die, pages covered in agony and joy and raw life. I wish I knew I always had this control.

I wish I knew, half a life ago, that I alone was the author of my story. 

I am determined now to make it a good one.