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?
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“:
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:
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.
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.
Even the literal meaning of the text does not lead to Voddie’s conclusions.
He believes this text means the father should present her a virgin. No, it means the girl should not lie. You see, VB himself also quote a text whereby an unmarried woman sleeping with a man should not be executed, but be either married or get alimony. As such, the right path was: Be honest. Do not sleep with man A, let your parents negotiate with man B as if she is a virgin because they honestly don’t know, and man B find it out on the wedding night.
If she slept with man A, she told it and got either a marriage or alimony from him. If she later married man B (there was no law that stopped non-virgins from marrying someone else), the man knew before the marriage she was not a virgin. She started the relationship on honest footing.
If she is stoned for “whoring in her father’s house” the whoring is not the simple act of having sex (for which she could get marriage or alimony, instead of stoning.) The whoring has something to do with deliberate witholding of relevant facts that the spouse probably will care about.
As for the father should preserve her virginity, which he gets from the father having to preserve the evidence of it: Keeping evidence of what (have not) happened, and keeping something (from) happening is not the same. The person, at my work, who keeps evidence of when employees are on holiday and how much annual leave they have left have no right or responsibility for telling them what to do on holiday or driving them to their holiday destination. She just records when they are not at work.
Baucham’s insistence that the principles of how fathers relate to daughters are the same today as then is debatable. But the principles he gets in those texts have never been in them – not for that society or ours.
Honestly, I don’t even know how you know where to begin…
This is not the Bronze Age. It is the 21st Century, when all people, women and men, own their own sexuality without condition. No one has any right to dictate to ANY other person who to have sex with or under what condition. Period.