Christian Patriarchy Just Made WORLD Magazine $11,200 Richer

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

WORLD Magazine, a biweekly conservative Christian news magazine, was and continues to be immensely popular among homeschooling families. As a kid, I remember eagerly anticipating each new edition of WORLD. I particularly loved the music reviews, since I used them to convince my parents that I should be allowed to buy new CDs. My family certainly was not alone in our admiration for WORLD: Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism, for example, also “grew up in a family that read every single issue of WORLD magazine thoroughly.”

The popularity of WORLD among homeschoolers probably isn’t a coincidence. One factor here is staff overlap: WORLD’s longtime (now former) culture editor, Gene Edward Veith, is the Provost of the HSLDA-funded Patrick Henry College, founded by Michael Farris — who also founded HSLDA. WORLD’s editor-in-chief, Marvin Olasky, is the Distinguished Chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College. And Les Sillars, the current Mailbag Editor at WORLD, is also (currently) Patrick Henry College’s Professor of Journalism.

Another factor is the content of WORLD. WORLD’s founder, Joel Belz, wrote back in 2003 about homeschoolers being the “Secret Weapon” for conservative Republicans — which HSLDA broadcast in their 2004 Court Report while promoting its Generation Joshua program. Furthermore, as Libby Anne has pointed out, a rather friendly relationship has existed between WORLD and Christian Patriarchy, especially Doug Phillips and Vision Forum:

At least a few WORLD magazine writers have been fans of Vision Forum, attending major Vision Forum events, etc. … WORLD magazine published an article by Doug Phillips in 1998. Also in 1998 WORLD magazine also praised one of Phillips’ books and spoke positively of Vision Forum’s publishing wing. … WORLD Magazine…promote[d] the recent patriarchal Vision Forum—related movie Courageous up and down. If WORLD magazine is serious about having nothing to do with the patriarchy movement, they need to be more proactive and less ambiguous.

If WORLD is serious about having nothing to do with the patriarchy movement, they need to be more proactive and less ambiguous. That’s the same criticism we’re hearing about Patrick Henry College’s chancellor, Michael Farris, who gave a tepid and responsibility-shirking criticism of “Christian Patriarchy” in World Net Daily and also recently “critiqued” it via insulting LGBT* and atheist homeschool alumni.

Of course, WORLD has started covering several of the recent scandals within Christian homeschooling — including Bill Gothard being placed on administrative leaveresigning, and the charges against him; as well as the fall of Vision Forum and the sexual assault lawsuit against Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips. Yet in their just-published “2014 Books Issue,” it appears that money speaks louder than principles. Because just like HSLDA continued to receive ad revenue from promoting Vision Forum in Michael Farris’s official HSLDA emails (while claiming it was trying “to keep this stuff outside the mainstream of the homeschooling movement”), WORLD Magazine covers the crumbling public face of Christian Patriarchy all while taking its money to promote it in full page ads.

In WORLD’s most recent print edition, the magazine features two full page ads for the biggest names in Christian Patriarchy. The first is for Kevin Swanson’s new (and academically embarrassing) book “Apostate.” The second is for a NCFIC (National Center for Family Integrated Churches) conference featuring Christian Patarichy celebrities like Scott Brown, R.C. Sproul, Jr. Kevin Swanson, and Geoff Botkin.

You can check out the ads here, the photographs of which are courtesy of Chris Hutton at Liter8 Thoughts:

The NCFIC ad is for their upcoming “Church and Family” conference. You can see their speakers are a Who’s Who of Christian Patriarchy — and basically a list of everyone who previously walked in line with Doug Phillips: Scott Brown, Kevin Swanson, Don Hart (General Counsel for Vision Forum Ministries!), Geoffrey Botkin, R.C. Sproul, Jr., etc. You honestly can’t get much more Christian Patriarchical than this. As Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board has said, Scott Brown is “posed to fill the void left by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum to further the Christian Patriarchy Movement among homeschool families and family-integrated churches.”

And Kevin Swanson’s “Apostate”? Really, WORLD? You want the guy who talks about “feces eaters” and compares abused children to “dead little bunnies” advertising in your magazine? That’s a new low, especially since “Apostate” is a book that seriously proposes that “Charles Darwin’s farting at night (not kidding) is relevant to his philosophic and scientific influence.”

Not to mention that many WORLD subscribers are conservative Catholics and one of the “Apostates” that Kevin Swanson believes helped usher in the end of Christianity is Thomas Aquinas. Yes, like the classic Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas. But despite Aquinas being Evil Incarnate to Swanson, Aquinas’s face is absent from Swanson’s WORLD ad. Pretty convenient, right?

Ultimately, money makes the world go round, and that’s evidently no less true for Christian magazines. Considering that full page ads are $5,600 each, Christian Patriarchy just made WORLD $11,200 richer this month. And WORLD just brought Kevin Swanson and NCFIC into the homes of 100,000 families. Wink, nod, shhh.

Christian Patriarchy on Educating Daughters

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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 May 12, 2014.

Okay, let’s take a few minutes to hash out Christian Patriarchy’s view towards women and education. I think this is necessary because I hear one side saying “you don’t believe in educating girls” and the other side saying “no no no, we do educate our daughters, your accusations are ridiculous.” So what is really going on here? I can’t necessarily get at what the ordinary family on the ground is doing, but what I can get at is what the leaders of the movement say. So let’s take a look, shall we?

In a nutshell, the leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement teach that daughters should be educated for their role as wives, mothers, teachers-at-home, and Proverbs 31 women, but not educated for careers outside of the home. This is summed up in a quote by Michael Farris from his book, The Home Schooling Father:

I want my daughters to have business savvy like the woman honored in Proverbs 31. But I don’t want them chasing the feminist dream of the two-career marriage (or shall we say “living arrangement”). They can’t have it all, as many feminists are beginning to find out. I want to avoid the twin evils of neglecting the proper career training of my daughters, on the one hand, and pushing them to the feminist career mold, on the other. Proverbs 31 teaches a godly balance: A woman who possesses work skills and financial resources, but who uses those skills in a way that keeps her home with her children and husband. The woman in Proverbs 31 does not stay home barefoot and pregnant watching soap operas. She is busy with more than garden clubs and poetry societies. Yet, she is first and foremost at home with her children and husband.

In fact, home schooling offers women the best of both worlds. Home schooling is a job that society values–teaching academics to children. It provides serious intellectual stimulation. It provides many opportunities to be held in esteem by people outside your family. . . . The pay is low. But the ability to be home with your children while working is second to none.

My wife was a very good student in high school and college. Before we began home schooling she would sometimes complain about the lack of intellectual activity in her life of wiping spills, changing diapers, and doing laundry. A couple of times she even wondered out loud about the idea of going to work.

Since we have been home schooling, her need for intellectual challenged has been abundantly satisfied. She has always believed that a mother’s place is in the home. But home schooling turned this belief into an intellectually satisfying lifestyle which provides many tangible rewards. The career I will ‘push’ at my daughters is the same one practiced by their mother.

The leaders of this movement, in other words, want daughters to be taught skills beyond diaper changing and laundry, but they don’t want daughters’ education to orient them towards a career outside the home. Interestingly enough, I can see how these ideas played out in my own life. My sister Heidi and I both attended college but sought degrees that would allow us to bring in extra income by working on the side, out of the home, while filling our proper roles as homeschooling mothers. When we both decided that was not what we wanted, we faced the challenge of turning an education intended to bring in pocket money into one we could forge careers out of.

Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin, daughters of Geoff Botkin and authors of So Much More, similarly endorsed educating women in a blog post last year:

We all want to equip ourselves to be godly women, but do we really know what that equipping should look like? A diet of books on modesty, courtship, and cake decorating will definitely fill the bill if the role we aspire to is simply one of wearing modest clothes, going through a courtship, and decorating cakes. But if we truly believe the biblical role of women is bigger and more significant than this, we need put our money where our mouths are and pursue education and training to match.

They went on to emphasize the importance of women studying law, economics, business, history, and the sciences, among other things. They argued that daughters at home should put their time and energies into becoming educated in a variety of fields, not simply into cooking or cleaning or childcare.

Farris and the Botkin sisters are not the only ones arguing that daughters should be educated, though not for careers outside of the home. Voddie Baucham had his daughter Jasmine, who lives in his home as an obedient “stay-at-home daughter,” obtain a bachelor’s degree and now a master’s degree. Doug Wilson emphasizes the importance of a strong classical education for both sons and daughters and takes a pride in his daughters being well educated and well spoken.

Even Doug Phillips has weighed in:

An encouragement for fathers with older daughters might be for them to be involved in directing “higher education” at home. Having daughters that have graduated from high school still at home is usually something parents have not prepared for. For some families the encouragement needed is for the young ladies to learn all the homemaking and mothering skills required to create an inviting, Christ—honoring home. But, many girls have worked on these skills for years and seem to lack inspiration and vision to study God’s Word in depth and become firmly grounded in theology, church history, world—view, child training, philosophy of education, etc. for themselves. We feel that these are crucial issues for fathers to take responsibility for and direct their daughters in.

In other words, the leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement are not against educating daughters. What they are against is educating daughters for careers outside of the home. They also have concerns about how their daughters go about being educated—namely, they do not want their daughters educated at secular universities. There is a lot of fear of secular education in these circles, and daughters are often seen as even more in need of protection than sons. Sons are to grow up and enter the world and be accountable straight to God. Daughters, in contrast, are fathers’ responsibility until they hand them off in marriage. Secular education, these leaders believe, provides only a truncated and twisted education that is not a real education at all. In fact, they argue that secular education as currently manifested is explicitly designed to corrupt young believers and lead them to atheism or, at the very least, to a liberal faith that “denies the gospel.”

This is why Michael Farris sent his daughters to Christian colleges. This is why Voddie Baucham enrolled his daughter in College Plus. Christian colleges, and, increasingly, online Christian colleges, are considered a safe alternative—although, again, daughters enrolled in these programs should have being a properly prepared wife, mother, and teacher-at-home as their goal, not a career outside the home. Some, such as Geoff Botkin and Doug Phillips, have continued their adult daughters’ education at home themselves, often focusing on a classical education approach and emphasizing law, economics, and history. Daughters are to be educated, but they should receive an education that teaches “truth,” not a perverted corrupted secular education.

I should note that all of this focuses on the leaders and not on the followers. What do the ordinary families following this ideology do? I suspect that class plays a large role here. The ordinary family may be overwhelmed both financially and emotionally by an ever-growing flock of children, and unable to properly educate even their sons. In this context, daughters’ academic education may seem less important, especially given that the daughters may be kept busy helping with the children and keeping the house running. Most families cannot afford a live-in nanny/helper like the Phillips could, after all.

And the leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement say things that play into the devaluing of daughters’ academic education in families that are overwhelmed already. For example, R. C. Sproul [Jr.] wrote the following of his exchange with a homeschooling mother:

The mother made a confession to me. She told me, “You know, my nine-year-old daughter doesn’t know how to read.” Now here is a good test to see how much baggage you are carrying around. Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you thinking, “Mercy, what would the school superintendent say if he knew?” My response was a cautious, “Really?” But my friend went on to explain, “She doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to the potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I saw her rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn’t know how to read, but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do, as does her mother. I want her to read to equip her to learn the Three Gs. [From earlier in the book, he notes the “Three Gs”: Who is God? What has God done? What does God require?] But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.

I’m not suggesting that the goal is to have ignorant daughters. I am, however, arguing that we are to train them to be keepers at home. These two are not equivalent. Though we aren’t given many details we know that both Priscilla and Aquila had a part in the education of Apollos. I’m impressed with Priscilla, as I am with my own wife. She is rather theologically astute… My point is that that brilliance isn’t what validates her as a person. It’s a good thing, a glorious thing, and an appropriate thing. But it’s like the general principle we’ve already covered. Would I rather be married to a godly woman who was comparatively ignorant, or a wicked person who was terribly bright? Who would make a better wife and mother, someone who doesn’t know infra- from supralapsarianism, but does know which side is up on a diaper, or a woman about to defend her dissertation on the eschatology of John Gill at Cambridge but one who thinks children are unpleasant? It’s no contest, is it? Naturally we want everything. We want all the virtues to the highest degree. But virtues come in different shades and colors in different circumstances.

In other words, educating daughters academically is good and important . . . but it’s more important that daughters learn to willingly and cheerfully change a diaper and make a bed. Doug Phillips has made similar statements:

The Bible actually has a great deal to say about what distinguishes a girl from a woman. For one thing, a mature Christian woman is one who has demonstrated that she has been trained and is ready for marriage. Historically, parents understood that it was their mission to raise their daughters to marriageable maturity so they could enjoy the husband “of their youth.”

To raise a daughter without thought to marriage, to instill in them a spirit of independence from the family, or to focus their training on a career outside the home, is actually to disqualify them for graduation and the next step in life. In contrast, a woman who meets the biblical requirements for graduation is one who is comfortable being under the jurisdiction of her father and seeks to make him successful in every way. She recognizes that God calls women to be under the authority of God-appointed men, first in the form of fathers, and later as husbands.

Note the similarity here to the Michael Farris quote I began with—”To raise a daughter without thought to marriage, to instill in them a spirit of independence from the family, or to focus their training on a career outside the home, is actually to disqualify them for graduation and the next step in life.” Daughters are to be educated, yes—but not for a career outside of the home.

The leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement believe that preparation for being a wife, mother, and teacher-at-home involves more than simply learning to change diapers and do laundry. They believe that being a proper Proverbs 31 woman should involve learning business, economics, history, law, and education. But all of this is seen as preparation for life as a homemaker and homeschool mother—not for a career outside the home. Indeed, these leaders—from Michael Farris to Doug Phillips—argue that daughters should be actively discouraged from even considering a career outside the home, and should instead be “pushed” towards homemaking and homeschooling as their lifelong destiny.

I don’t have a problem with a woman choosing to be a homemaker and homeschool mother, but that should be a choice, not the only option available to them. And given how unstable the world can sometimes be, even women who choose to stay at home should make sure they have career options available in case of death, divorce, or economic downturn. Heidi and I were lucky. We attended college and received degrees. Even so, our choice of majors was so limited by our assumption that we were not preparing for careers outside the home that we had to make some tough choices when we decided careers outside the home were what we really wanted. How much worse it must be for those who do not receive a college degree, or even more, for those whose parents are so overwhelmed that their education goes on the back burner entirely.

If you tell someone involved in the Christian Patriarchy movement that they do not believe in educating their daughters, they will object to your portrayal and cease to listen to what you are saying. If you, in contrast, tell them that they do not believe in educating their daughters for careers outside the home, they will likely agree. Then, perhaps, you may be able to begin a conversation.

6 Examples of HSLDA Trying to Keep Vision Forum Outside the Mainstream

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On April 15, 2014, WorldNetDaily did an in-depth report on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel’s sexual assault lawsuit against Christian Patriarchy advocate Doug Phillips. In the report, WorldNetDaily interviewed Michael Farris from the Home School Legal Defense Association. Farris appeared to put Phillips and patriarchy “on blast”:

“As for the patriarchy movement, Farris said the teachings are not widely accepted in the broader homeschool community… ‘We have tried, by example, to keep this stuff outside the mainstream of the homeschooling movement.’”

Today we wanted to honor, remember, and reflect on those moments that truly encapsulate HSLDA’s attempts to keep this Vision Forum “stuff” outside the mainstream of the homeschooling movement. Here are 6 such moments:

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1. When HSLDA’s official blog refused to promote Vision Forum material…

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2. When HSLDA’s official blog was like, “No, we will never recommend Vision Forum or G.A. Henty to our members, especially not as recently as October 2012″…

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(G.A. Henty being that guy that, you know, wrote things like, “The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old” and praised “strong white power.”)

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3. When one of HSLDA’s Court Report writers, on HSLDA’s official blog, spoke up against a Vision Forum poetry book because of its oppressive view of “womanhood”…

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4. When HSLDA’s Early Years Coordinator — only 4 months ago, so 2 months after Doug Phillips resigned — made sure HSLDA’s opposition to Vision Forum was clear in their official curriculum suggestions…

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(The last available screen capture of the above was December 19, 2013. HSLDA has since quietly scrubbed this — and only this — particular reference to Vision Forum.)

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5. When, on October 22, 2013, HSLDA told Vision Forum, “We want to keep you out of the mainstream, so — no, we will not accept your advertising money, and we definitely will not display your catalog right next to Michael Farris’s face in Farris’s official HSLDA email newsletter”…

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6. When HSLDA took a brave stand against sponsoring conventions headlined by patriarchy advocates…

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…With enemies like this, who needs friends?

Why the Distance Between “Christian Patriarchy” and “Complementarianism” Is A Sleight Of Hand: Rebecca Irene Gorman’s Thoughts

 

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Also by Rebecca on HA: “The No True Homeschooler Argument,” “I Was Beaten, But That’s Not My Primary Issue With Homeschooling” and “‘Fake Someone Happy’: A Book Review.” 

My pastor was the director of the Chalcedon Foundation and the other teachers I studied under were Mark Rushdooney, President of the Chalcedon Foundation, Doug Wilson, Howard Phillips (father of Doug Phillips) etc. Ground zero of the ‘Christian Patriarchy’ movement.

The context in which they use the word ‘patriarchy’: It’s not always capitalized. It’s not always typed as ‘Christian Patriarchy’. They don’t think of ‘Christian Patriarchy’ as the name of their movement. Yes, they do think that patriarchy is a good thing, and say so explicitly. They love to talk about the Biblical patriarchy, and are often happy to capitalize Patriarchy as a value essential to Biblical Christianity.

If you ask them what their movement is called, they’ll probably tell you ‘Biblical Christianity’. They might go on to mention the Reformers or covenentalism or Reconstructionism or postmillenialism or paedobaptism, because all of these things are central to their identity. Which ones they mention is purely personal preference. If you ask them what they believe about gender roles, they’ll say: ‘complementarianism’. NOT ‘Christian Patriarchy’.

For these people at ground zero of the ‘Christian Patriarchy’ movement, they talk about ‘Patriarchy’ as a positive thing, method behind taking dominion, the reason for quiverful beliefs, beliefs around baptism, communion, etc. While their promotion of this word is very telling about their objectification of women, it’s not what immediately comes to mind for them when they’re thinking about gender roles. What immediately comes to mind for them when thinking about gender roles are various Bible verses and stories that make up the culture’s dialogue about gender roles, and when they have to boil their gender role perspective down to a term, they think of it and talk of it as ‘complementarianism’.

It’s disingenuous to say ‘I’m not a Christian-Patriarchalist, I’m a Complementarian.’ Show me a person who claims to be a Christian Patriarchalist, or a Christian-Patriarchalist who doesn’t define their gender beliefs as ‘Complementarian’, and I’ll show you a fairy. NOBODY claims to be a Christian-Patriarchalist. Claiming to be a Complementarian ‘because that’s what the Bible teaches’ IS the definition of what we now-outsiders call Christian Patriarchy, end stop.

Saying ‘I’m not a Christian Patriarchalist, I’m a Complementarian’ is like saying ‘I’m not a giraffe, I’m a large African mammal with a very long neck and forelegs and a coat patterned with brown patches separated by lighter lines.’

What “Christian Patriarchy” Is

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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 19, 2012.

In a nutshell, Christian Patriarchy is the belief that God has ordained a specific family order, and that this family order must be followed. The husband leads, the wife submits, and the children obey.

There are two important aspects about Christian Patriarchy. The first is the belief in the importance of male headship or authority, and the second is the belief that men and women have vastly different roles to play. A third issue involves the role of children.

Male Authority

Christian Patriarchy holds that women must always be under male authority (or headship). A woman is never to be independent of male authority. First, she is under her father’s authority, and then under her husband’s authority.

(A widow would be under her son’s authority, or, if she had no sons or her sons were young, she would return to her father’s authority. If is not possibles possible, some argue that widow should place herself under the authority of a church elder or pastor.)

Many evangelicals use the rhetoric of “male headship” but see it as merely spiritual or figurative. For Christian Patriarchy, though, being under male authority includes obedience. This obedience is absolute; a woman is only excused from obeying if her male authority orders her to do something illegal and immoral (some dispute this, and argue that she is still required to obey, but that God won’t hold her accountable for any sins she commits at the order of her male authority).

I Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Under Christian Patriarchy, the framework in this verse is extended to women in general. Every woman has a male authority, and that male authority looks to Christ as his authority. A woman is to obey her male authority, whether it is her father, husband, brother, or son, and he in turn is to obey Christ. By obeying her male authority, a woman is obeying God. This is seen as the natural and God-given order. 

Separate Roles

Christian Patriarchy holds that men are to provide and protect and women are to care for the home and the children. This is seen as the divine order for the family. The idea is that the two sexes are equal, but that they have different roles to play. Both roles are highly important, and neither sex can fulfill the role of the other. Men and women are simply different.

The man’s role is to hold a career and provide for his family, to protect his family, and to represent his family to the world in politics and in the church. The woman’s role is to bear children and raise them, to cook and keep house, and to support her husband, building him up as a man through her affirmation and obedience.

Hard core followers of Christian Patriarchy hold that women are never to work outside of the home in any capacity – even if their families desperately need the money. Yet just as with Quiverfull, there are plenty of families who are influenced by the ideas of Christian Patriarchy without being completely hard core. These families most often hold that married women, or married women with children, should not hold jobs outside of the home, and that it’s not women’s place to have “careers.”

Children 

Under Christian Patriarchy, all children are expected to offer their parents absolute obedience while they are minors. No disobedience is accepted, and children are taught that obeying their parents is obeying God, because God has placed them under their parents’ authority.

Daughters remain under their father’s authority until married to a man he approves of, generally through a parent-guided courtship. While under her father’s authority, it is the daughter’s duty to obey him and accept his will for her as God’s will. Many in the Christian Patriarchy movement reject college for girls, and the Stay At Home Daughter movement is growing.

Sons are under their father’s authority until they become men. The point at which this occurs isn’t so clear, but it definitely occurs sometime between when they turn eighteen and when they marry. Once he becomes a man, a son no longer need to be under male authority, and he becomes the male authority for his wife and children.

Some families in Christian Patriarchy have trouble completely letting go of their sons, however, and there is in some circles the idea that even an adult son should be obedient to, or at least highly respective of, his father’s desire. This is where you get Geoff Botkin’s 200 Year Plan (also known as Multigenerational Faithfulness).

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember about Christian Patriarchy is its emphasis on a hierarchical family order, which it regards as the natural order ordained by God. Men and women have different roles to play, the man as protector and provider and the woman as nurturer and homemaker. Women are always under male authority; daughters are to obey their fathers and wives are to obey their husbands. When everyone fulfills the role God has created for them, the family prospers.

The things I find most troubling about Christian Patriarchy are its emphasis on women offering absolute obedience to their male authorities – when you think about it, there is nothing really to differentiate this from slavery – and its emphasis on strict gender roles, which classes people by their sex rather than by their talents, interests, or abilities. Christian Patriarchy fails to recognize the huge diversity within each gender, and pushes people into prescribed slots based on their genitals rather than seeing people as individuals first.

The vast, vast majority of Christians do not hold to the teachings of Christian Patriarchy. In fact, many Christians actively fight against these ideas, arguing that they represent a fallen order of mankind and that Christ has ordained equality between the genders. However, it should be noted that even as some Christians fight these ideas others are unknowingly influenced by them, and that is what makes understanding the ideas behind Christian Patriarchy all the more important.

Christian Patriarchy is Alive and Well: NCFIC’s Scott Brown Moves to Fill the Void

Source: https://ncfic.org/about/internship
Source: https://ncfic.org/about/internship

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on January 31, 2014.

With the demise of Vision Forum Ministries and the vacancy left by Doug Phillips after the public disclosure of his sexual immorality, the most likely candidate has stepped up to the plate to fill that void: Scott Brown.  Scott Brown is the director of National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC), which was originally part of Vision Forum Ministries, but later branched off into an independent ministry effort.

One of the highly acclaimed programs at Vision Forum was the internship opportunities for young men (read:  Christian Patriarchy Indoctrination 101 and free labor help for Doug Phillips). Mr. Brown has jumped on that bandwagon and is now putting out the call for his new internship program at the National Center for Family Integrated Churches whose goal is:

dedicated to promoting the restoration of biblical church and family life. We believe that God’s design for the church family will not be realized unless men reclaim the mantle of sacrificial leadership at home, in the church, and in society, at large.

What does NCFIC intern program look like?

You as an intern will learn about the biblical doctrines of church and family, work to communicate the message of the NCFIC, and provide the manpower necessary to carry out various conferences. 

Here is the list of books interns must bring with them (recent editions preferred):

  • The Sovereignty of God, A.W. Pink
  • The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Steven Lawson
  • Knowing God, J.I. Packer
  • The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever
  • How God Wants Us to Worship Him, Joe Morecraft
  • Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon
  • Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Bruce Ware
  • God-Breathed, Louis Gaussen
  • Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, John MacArthur
  • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer
  • Revival and Revivalism, Iain Murray
  • The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (McNeill)
  • Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof
  • The Lord’s Day, Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.
  • Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen
  • God’s Gospel of Grace, Jeff Pollard
  • Family Reformation, Scott Brown
  • A Weed in the Church, Scott Brown
  • Building a God-Centered Family, Matthew Henry

Because the interns will be serving at Hope Baptist church, they will be required to sign some paperwork first:

Before coming to Wake Forest, interns must read the Hope Baptist membership package and doctrinal statement. Interns must also be in agreement with and sign the Hope Baptist church covenant, effective for the duration of their internship.

This is part of the application paperwork:

Source: https://ncfic.org/uploads/about/NCFIC_-_Intern_Applicationdocx.pdf

Some of the questions asked on the application:

  • Explain the key elements of the biblical doctrine of the family

(AKA: They want to know, did your daddy teach you that you will be ruling over your wife and children?)

  • Explain key elements of the biblical doctrine of the church

(AKA:  They want to know,  do you know your Reconstructionism doctrine?)

  • Explain key elements of the biblical doctrine of repentance

(AKA: they want to make sure you don’t embarrass them like Doug Phillips did.)

Folks, if you thought Christian Patriarchy Movement was dying out because of Doug Phillips, think again.

I suspect the Christian Patriarchy crowd will be stronger than ever in their attempts to spread their Patriarchal and essentially Reconstructionist message to the masses.  What a great way to vamp up this message by getting free and enthusiastic labor from young men who are already sold on these ideas.

P.S.  Did Scott Brown — ahem — “borrow” intellectual property when making up the intern application? Here is a cached version of the Vision Forum’s application.

Is This a Discussion?: Sarah Jones Says No

conversation

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As we all try to make homeschooling better, are we having an open discussion?

Sarah Jones says no, Lana Hope says yes.

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sarah Jones’ blog Anthony B. Susan.  It was originally published on December 7, 2013.

This post began life as a pensive reflection on my life as a homeschool apostate. I’ll be blunt: I’m too angry to write that post. I spend so much time trying to separate myself from extremism and militancy that’s personally frustrating to be so stymied by anger now. But that is where I find myself.

I am furious with homeschool parents who, for days, have been telling me that I’m just bitter: a barely competent child whose rage can be invalidated and debased as ‘lashing out.’

I am weary of Christian patriarchs like Chris Jeub who feel obligated to repeatedly insert themselves into the narrative emerging from our stories of homeschool abuse. This week, Jeub hastened to assure his fellow homeschoolers that we “apostates” haven’t really abandoned the faith; that we’re just asking questions. In doing so, he reduced our entire movement to a monolith more palatable to his fundamentalist audience. It didn’t matter that many of us, like myself, have abandoned the faith and are happy for it. But we’re here, patriarchs, and we’re not going anywhere, so you might as well admit we exist.

Jeub’s post is so distressing to me because I see it as a ploy to retain some control of the narrative we’ve tried to produce. Let me be very clear: this story is not about Chris Jeub. It’s not about any patriarch, for that matter. It is about us. Don’t you dare re-center this around yourselves.

It is time for you to sit down and pass the mike. The guinea pigs are talking.

You had your chance to run your social experiment. Now the results are in and patriarchs, it doesn’t look good for you. You deliberately created a cultural hierarchy that enshrined your place of privilege as divine right. The people you’ve oppressed for decades are trying to speak, and every time we make a sound you drown us out.

I am not looking for a conversation. I think the time for conversation has passed, if it ever existed at all. If you’re not willing to discard Christian patriarchy completely, to acknowledge the horrifying damage it has wreaked on those rendered powerless by it, then you are not my conversation partner: you are the enemy in my fight for liberation. If you are not willing to stop viewing your children as property to be controlled, there is no discussion to be had.

Moreover: I think it actually endangers the fight against Christian patriarchy to view its proponents as conversation partners. They actively perpetuate oppression, and I don’t see it as my responsibility to train them in the ways of allyship. Their voices have been so dominant for so long that I believe it will be impossible to make ourselves heard as long as they’re still speaking. There have been calls for conversation. But conversation is only really possible if both partners are operating as equals; those of us who left Christian patriarchy aren’t yet equal to those who perpetuate it.

Some day, yes, that might change. But in order for that change to occur, Christian patriarchs are going to have to recognize that it’s not their turn to speak.

They’re going to have to cede power.

Ready for Real Life: Part Nine, Concluding Thoughts

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Ready for Real Life: Part Nine, Concluding Thoughts

HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Ahab’s blog, Republic of Gilead. Part Nine of this series was originally published on November 25, 2013.

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Also in this series: Part One, Botkins Launch Webinar | Part Two, Ready for What? | Part Three, Are Your Children Ready? | Part Four, Ready to Lead Culture | Part Five, Science and Medicine | Part Six, History and Law | Part Seven, Vocations | Part Eight, Q&A Session | Part Nine, Concluding Thoughts

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After receiving a tip from one of my readers, I purchased access to the “Ready for Real Life” webinar, hosted by the Botkin family of the Western Conservatory for the Arts and Sciences. After listening to the seven-part webinar, I was struck by how paradoxical the content was.  On one hand, Christians are to teach their children to take dominion of the world and assume positions of leadership, according to the Botkins. On the other hand, their instructions on how to raise homeschooled children would make this next to impossible.

The Botkins place little value on college degrees or certifications, but without degrees, advancement to leadership positions in most fields would be difficult if not impossible. Geoffrey Botkin speaks coldly about the so-called “slave economy” in which most mainstream jobs are situated, discouraging homeschooled youth from working at such jobs. The Botkins’ distrust of secular academia, the mainstream scientific community,the modern art and music scenesthe military, and the secular state (evident in Geoffrey’s hostility toward so-called “statism”) precludes young people from working in those fields as well.

How can youth raised with the Botkins’ ideology be leaders in the world if advanced educational opportunities and multiple career fields are off limits?

Furthermore, leadership involves understanding and working alongside the people one intends to lead. The Botkins, however, are wary of people and ideas outside of their immediate subculture. People who think differently than them are viewed at best as “sheep” in need of a shepherd, and at worst as enemies. In the Botkins’ day to day lives, such people are largely avoided. How can Botkin-aligned youth lead other people if their ideology prevents them from interacting with others at length or learning about them?

It goes without saying that in the Botkins’ vision, such leaders will be men.

The Botkins’ ideology relegates women to the home, where they are assigned the tasks of homeschooling children, keeping the house in order, possibly running a home business, and accepting the blame when things go wrong. College and careers outside the home are off-limits, and gifts are to be put aside in favor of marriage and motherhood, as in the case of Geoffrey’s daughter-in-lawWomen can help their men, but not serve as leaders in their own right. How do the Botkins expect their fundamentalist Christians to rise up as leaders when half of their number are barred from meaningful participation in the outside world?

In conclusion, the Botkins’ webinar encourages Christian homeschooling families to take dominion, but fails to provide realistic instructions for doing so. The ideology they preach is not only inadequate for achieving the dominion they crave, but inadequate for preparing young people for real life.

Life in a fundamentalist bubble simply isn’t good training for leadership in the real world.

Ready for Real Life: Part Eight, Q&A Session

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Ready for Real Life: Part Eight, Q&A Session

HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Ahab’s blog, Republic of Gilead. Part Eight of this series was originally published on November 19, 2013.

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Also in this series: Part One, Botkins Launch Webinar | Part Two, Ready for What? | Part Three, Are Your Children Ready? | Part Four, Ready to Lead Culture | Part Five, Science and Medicine | Part Six, History and Law | Part Seven, Vocations | Part Eight, Q&A Session | Part Nine, Concluding Thoughts

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This part of “Ready for Real Life” was devoted to answering listener questions about Christian homeschooling. In the final installment of their webinar series, the Botkins responded to listener questions about family vision, interactions with outsiders, support systems, tensions with relatives, and children’s’ role in the family.

First, in response to a question about what guided his vision for his children, Geoffrey replied that he wanted his children to be “mighty” leaders, not merely surviving or living in “Christian ghettos”. After citing Psalm 127:3-5 (“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth; blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”), he outlined his vision for the Botkin children at the 4:57 mark.

“I want them to be able confront their enemies, the enemies of Jesus Christ at the highest points of the land, the places in the country where decisions are made. The gates of nations happen to be where leadership happens, where decisions are made on law and jurisprudence, medicine, literature, the arts, science, business, agriculture, many of the things we’ve spoken about here on the webinar, military affairs, family culture, politics, public policy. I wanted my children to be able to grow up and stand in the gates, so that guided the kinds of things that we told them, but foundational to all of it was understanding that they needed first to begin with a fear of the Lord and an attitude of respecting and delighting in the Lord’s commands.”

At the 6:08 mark, Geoffrey explained how he warned his children that they must serve God and transcend “worldly success”. 

“I wanted them to know they were growing up to serve a living God who had a will for them, an ethical system he wanted the entire world to live by. I wanted them especially to realize if they lived in the United States of America, they could not give their lives to serving wealth, not worldly success, not the traditions of men. And so, we steered them by trying to define for them the Kingdom of God, and then thinking about how to strengthen the Kingdom of God, and said, ‘Children, this is your responsibility. This is what you’ll be doing all your lives. This is what you are called to do in the Great Commission, to to make disciples of the nations.'”

One listener submitted a question about what to teach children about people in the outside world. 

Should they be on the lookout for potential threats and ministry opportunities? In response, Geoffrey claimed that he taught his children to recognize other people as “eternal souls” and to help them interpret those they encounter. At the 7:37 mark, he had this to say.

“When we go into the world, let’s say we’re on a trip to Wal-Mart and we’re surrounded by people from many different backgrounds. What are we teaching our children to think about these others that they’re seeing? How do they look at these people who are around them? Well, number one, we teach them theologically that these people are eternal souls. Every single one has an eternal soul. We need to interpret the world for them when we’re talking about people, when they’re looking at people. Many parents say, ‘Well, we homeschooled our kids to keep them away from bad influences and the rabble that are out there, and so we just put little blinders on our children, we march into the store, do our business, and get out.’ Well, we never had that attitude toward people. We wanted to interpret what was going on, and if we saw a guy covered with tattoos, we’d probably talk about it.”

Geoffrey stressed the importance of teaching children to love people, help others, and share truth. At the 8:54 mark, he warned that homeschooled children could grow disdainful of outsiders without good parental guidance.

“If we’re not careful, our children will develop very confused ideas about what they’re seeing in the world, and in fact, if we don’t help them, they will tend to be proud and arrogant and have a naturally contemptuous attitude toward other people because, of course, they’re perfect little homeschool kids who are upright and not like those other people. We don’t want them to have that kind of prideful attitude. We don’t want them to be hostile or disdainful to people.”

Soon thereafter, Geoffrey shared a story about how he responded when his sons met people who were different from them. On a hot day when he and his sons were visiting the University of Monterrey in Mexico, they noticed several young women in “Mexican chic undress”. “They didn’t have many clothes on”, Geoffrey complained. Later, he instructed his sons to pray for the women and their future husbands and children.

“They’re like sheep without shepherds,” Geoffrey told his sons. “They need someone to look after them, to protect them, to lead them.”

The irony was not lost on me. Geoffrey condemned judgmental attitudes toward people who are different, but a few seconds later, he judged women whose clothing choices he disliked. I found it unfortunate that the Botkin sons were taught to see women outside their subculture as lost “sheep” who needed a (presumably male) shepherd to tell them what to do.

Another listener was concerned about those who exhibit outward Christian conduct without inward transformation. In response, Geoffrey lamented the “conformist theology” in many churches that encourage “friendship with the world”, as well as the influence of “America’s materialistic culture”. At the 16:14 mark, he dismissed the idea of going to college, getting a good job, and joining a “comfortable church” in favor of serving God’s law.

“If the entire goal of life is getting a good job and then just affiliating with a comfortable church on Sunday, then life is about pursuing the American Dream and not seeking first the kingdom of God, and so you don’t really need holiness, righteousness, knowledge of the scripture, knowledge of the law of God and the commandments of Jesus Christ … There is a dominant cultural trend in the churches and in the homeschooling movement to get into a worldly college so you can get a bigger salary and then bigger benefits. This will not lead your children into holiness, righteousness, and fruitfulness and fulfillment. This is serving Mammon, and when people pursue security through Mammon, Jesus Christ will be dishonored.”

One listener asked what advice the Botkins would give to homeschooling families without support systems. Geoffrey encourages husbands to encourage and assist their wives. However, he seemed distrustful of support systems outside of the family that could potentially hold different beliefs. He admonished listeners to avoid any homeschooling groups that are (1) overly focused on “trends”, (2) tied to “state organizations”, which he accused of being “humanistically oriented” and obsessed with the “college agenda”, and (3) associated with churches that have strong youth groups with large numbers of public school children.

This insularity, it seemed, was to shield fundamentalist families from outside forces that could introduce undesirable influences.

Victoria offered commentary, explaining that while it is nice to have support from other Christians, homeschooling families shouldn’t lean on other people to support them. With less support, the Botkins were in a better position to monitor the ideas that their children were exposed to, she explained. Also, if the Botkin children wanted friends, they had to be friends with each other and work though sibling quarrels. The family didn’t spent time driving to homeschool activities that weren’t productive, she said, allowing the children to use that time for productive activities.

One listener asked the Botkins for good strategies for encouraging children’s gifts while cultivating a “cohesive family identity”. Geoffrey replied that too many parents feel that they’re obligated to identify children’s gifts and do something special for each child. Over time, this approach causes the “cohesive family identity” to disintegrate because each family member is something different. He reminded listeners that gifts are tools bestowed by God to advance his kingdom, not as sources of personal aggrandizement.

The Botkins had much to say in response to a listener question about how to respond to “hostile” in-laws and relatives. Citing Deuteronomy 13, Geoffrey reminded listeners that no earthly relationship can trump one’s relationship with God, and that believers can’t indulge or “subsidize” a relative’s rebellion against God. Christians can love their relatives, but always on their terms, he explained, adding that Christians must let family members know what the rules are in their home.

At the 41:20 mark, Geoffrey told the audience that they have no moral duty to honor or care for relatives to reject God’s law.

“Don’t surrender your principles. Practically, you don’t have to have any moral responsibility to honor or subsidize relatives, including parents, who reject the law and righteousness of God. Your duty of honoring them would be very different, and you can explore scripture to find out what that would be. You don’t have to care for them and take care of them if they will not submit to the rules of your household.”

Victoria added that believers can still express love and honor to nonbeliever relatives, but from a distance. It’s acceptable to pray for such relatives and send them cards and gifts, even if one cannot spend time with them anymore. By doing so, parents set a good example on how to respond to nonbelievers with love, she said.

Geoffrey turned to family roles, outlining expectations placed on children. For example, fathers must make it clear that their children are never to disobey or dishonor their mothers. If a child disrespects their mother, the father must quickly and firmly defend the mother’s honor. Not only does the Bible command this, but the children need to respect their mother if she is to teach them effectively, he argued. Even a child is a few months old, it will lash out and try to hit its mother, but for an older child “than can become a capital offense”, he said.

What!? I thought. Your talk of children and “capital” offenses is making me very uncomfortable.

To boot, Geoffrey’s insistence on respect for the mother was ironic, given that his teachings and those of the Christian Patriarchy Movement are inherently disrespectful to women. Treating women as men’s subordinates, denying women a voice, and barring women from meaningful life paths are not respectful to women.

Regarding the role of daughters, Geoffrey relegated girls to subordinate roles.

At the 1:05:34 mark, he instructed parents to train their daughters to help their parents and brothers. He warned that if the men around them do not strive for meaningful lives, girls will reject their helpmeet role.

“What you’re training your daughter for has a lot to do with what you think you are for, okay, and what you think your sons are for. Your daughter’s biggest job is to help you in the direction you set for your whole family, dads … This really is her scriptural, biblical job, to help you dad, helping the family. And she will help her mommy, you know, learning to be a mother by helping her mother, and this helps you and it helps your family. She helps her brothers. As she helps her brothers and learns to respect her brothers, she’s learning the skills and attitudes she’ll need to be a wonderful wife. So, her role will be as big or small as you set it to be, and if your role as a man is to have just a very quiet, insignificant existence, and to be a pew warmer at church and not really do anything for the kingdom, then she’s going to see–what good is a woman if men are not doing anything and there’s nothing to really help a man do, then being a helpmeet hardly even makes any sense. And so they will be exasperated by that, and they’ll be thinking of other things to do. If the men aren’t doing anything, how are we going to reform society? ‘I guess I’ve got to go out there and be prime minister or something!'”

At the 1:06:58 mark, Geoffrey instructed parents to raise sons as leaders and daughters as followers and helpers.

“You should be raising daughters to be the female counterparts of what your training your sons to be. That’s what you need to be doing. Training your sons to be leaders, dominion men, and training your daughters to be helpers of men like that.”

Anna Botkin fielded a listener question on what a girl’s role should look like after high school if she does not marry. Anna asserted that marriage isn’t a given for a woman, and that singleness isn’t outside of God’s plan for women. Women lives include more than wife and mother roles, but can also include serving the church, caring for the poor, and assisting with the home economy.

Elizabeth Botkin fielded a question on whether parents should teach their daughters a trade, or only teach them vocational tasks such as cooking and cleaning. In response, Elizabeth argued that all girls should contribute to the family economy, citing Proverbs 31. While men are responsible for providing for their households, wives who strengthen the household economy are important, she said. At the 1:13:14 mark, she explained how daughters are to balance entrepreneurship with submission to men.

“How does one balance being entrepreneurial and being a submissive daughter who has a family vision? Well, a girl will actually be able to be a much more helpful submissive daughter and be more beneficial to the family vision if she does have an entrepreneurial spirit. The conflict comes when a daughter has her own independent entrepreneurial agenda and that comes first, and is more important to her than helping her family. But if she has the heart of a servant and she has the best interests of her family at heart, and she’s making that making that her top priority, she can cultivate just as much initiative and diligence and creativity and resourcefulness and business savvy as she wants, and it will be nothing but an asset to her family. See, right now, a lot of our fathers are trying to figure out how they can leave the workforce and come work at home, and a lot of our brothers are trying to figure out how do they start off on the right foot instead of getting stuck in a system they don’t want to be stuck in. And I believe that right now, all of we unmarried daughters who are still at home are the secret weapons of this movement to rebuild the home economy. A daughter can be her father’s greatest asset while he’s trying to make his transition from working a job to starting a home business … or maybe she can focus on just helping her brothers get started in whatever businesses they’re trying to start.”

One listener asked how women without college degrees could support themselves after divorce, abandonment, or the death of their husbands. Elizabeth admitted that parents should train their daughters on how to be economically productive in good times as well as bad times.  “Doing economically profitable work from home should be part of every woman’s life, obviously more in some seasons than in others,” she said.

Churches often offer support to women facing difficult times, but what if a woman doesn’t have that support system?

Elizabeth dismissed the idea that a woman would need a college degree so that she could get a job in such a situation.

Rather, she claimed that a lone woman without a support system could support herself (and homeschool her children) by working at home. At the 1:16:25 mark, she had this to say.

“In the event that you were stranded as the only breadwinner with a house full of little children, practicing for this kind of situation by spending four years and 40 or $50,000 training exclusively for a job and getting the qualifications for a job that you could only do outside the home would be exactly what you don’t want to do. So instead, if you took that time and used it to learn marketable skills that you could use from home or start a business that you could be running on the side and to invest that $40,000 into some thing else, it would be a much better situation if you were at home and suddenly had a lot of little children that you don’t want to suddenly put in public school so you could go out and get a job.”

The problems with Elizabeth’s approach were numerous. Where would the capital come from? Where would a woman learn the business knowledge and specialized skills she would need for a home enterprise? If her children aren’t in school, day care, or the care of her support network, where would she find time to carry out business tasks, such as production, marketing, and networking with other entrepreneurs? How on earth could a woman make enough money to support a large family and set aside enough time to raise and homeschool her children while running a full-time home business? What if the home business fails?

The Botkins’ ideology makes emergencies harsher than they need to be, and in failing to prepare young women for real life, may precipitate those emergencies in the first place.

Geoffrey Botkin concluded the webinar by quoting Titus 2:11, encouraging listeners to serve God and live godly, sensible lives. At the 1:32:15 mark, he told listeners that if they follow God, they will benefit the surrounding world.

“The grace of God is benefiting even those who are still in darkness. If you are doing what you need to be doing in your family, your community, and in your churches, you are helping bring peace and order and stability to your nation, and other people are benefiting from it because of the grace of God in your lives. This grace of God has appeared, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

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This part of the “Ready for Real Life” webinar featured the following themes:

  • Family identity over personal identity: Geoffrey placed great value on “cohesive family identity”, warning that excessive attention to children’s gifts and individual identities could undermine this cohesion.
  • Vacillation between love and contempt for outsiders: One one hand, the Botkins instructed listeners to show love toward”hostile” relatives and other people outside their belief system. On the other hand, Geoffrey spoke of outsiders (such as scantily-clad women) with condescension, and outright stated that believers have no moral duty to honor or care for relatives who “reject the law and righteousness of God.”
  • Insularity: The Botkins’ attitudes toward connections outside of the nuclear family were mixed at best. They did not place great value on support networks, and outright rejected support networks (i.e., homeschool groups, relatives) who espoused beliefs that differed from theirs. Girls were encouraged to funnel their talents into the home, rather than seeking university educations or jobs outside of the home.
  • Unrealistic economic expectations for women and girls: Women and girls were expected to make economic contributions to the family that did not involve employment outside of the home. Elizabeth Botkin encouraged widowed, abandoned, or divorced women to sustain their households with home businesses (all while keeping their kids at home), oblivious to how onerous this task would be without a support system.

Stay tuned for the conclusion, in which I’ll reflect on the webinar series as a whole.

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To be continued.

Setting the Boundaries

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sarah Jones’ blog Anthony B. Susan.  It was originally published on December 1, 2013.

Revelations that Doug Phillips of Vision Forum had a long-term affair, likely with a much younger woman who worked for his family without pay, have revived crucial interest in Christian patriarchy’s attitude toward relationships and consent. Phillips isn’t a mainstream figure; he’s a proponent of the Quiverfull movement who doesn’t think women should vote. He’s also a figurehead of the so-called Stay at Home Daughter Movement, which encourages young women to forsake higher education and careers in order to remain at home, under their fathers’ “protection.”

Obviously, that protection didn’t extend to Phillips’ young victim–and I use “victim” quite deliberately here. I agree with Julie Anne Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board that the Christian patriarchy movement grooms young women for abuse, consciously or not, by brainwashing them into compliance and encouraging them to forgo developing skills necessary for independent lives.  There is a very clear power imbalance present, even in relationships between adults of the same age, because of an overwhelming emphasis on male dominion. I believe that Phillips knew exactly what he was doing. I think he sought this woman out at a young age specifically because of her vulnerability.

I think this a.) because that’s how predators work and b.) because the movement idolizes regressive gender roles.

Take the infamous Elsie Dinsmore series. Though they stopped selling the series this year, Vision Forum pushed the books as a wholesome alternative to worldly fiction for girls and formerly ran an essay contest based on the series. Unfortunately, Vision Forum has removed that page from its site and I can only find a cached pdf copy that doesn’t link to the full essays. You’ll have to trust my memory instead. I read the essays while still in college and had to restrain myself from picking up my lumbering school-issued PC and throwing it across the room as I read essay after essay by girls crediting the Dinsmore books for encouraging them to forgo a college education.

The series, which is available on Project Gutenburg if you feel like torturing yourself, stars Elsie Dinsmore and lauds her submission to her physically abusive father and her eventual marriage to one of her father’s friends, Mr. Travilla. Dinsmore is eight in the first book, which also features this stupendous quote from Travilla: “He (Elsie’s father) is not to take you away. I have made a bargain with him to let me keep you . . . call me papa in the future.” And so she did.

This is Vision Forum’s approach to romance. This is what they promote to their stay at home daughters. That’s why I, like Julie Anne, don’t really believe Phillips’ victim consented to the relationship. The environment in which it occurred is intrinsically coercive.

I was not a stay at home daughter. My parents had the sense to encourage me to attend college and pursue a career of my choice. But even their version of soft patriarchy granted my father a position of unreasonable power in our household and condemned me to a lifetime of submission to men.

As a college student, I became the victim of an attempted rape, the culmination of an abusive, controlling relationship.

It’s something I’ve written about before on my blog, and while I don’t enjoy writing about it, I will when I think my experience is relevant. Unfortunately, it’s relevant again. You see, Christian patriarchy–even soft patriarchy– doesn’t talk about consent. It doesn’t talk about relationship abuse. It encourages men to control women, and it expects women to submit to that control. And even though I was a non-theist and a feminist by the time I survived the attack, I blamed myself for what happened. I provoked it. I’d worn pajamas around a man, and just the year before, our student chaplain had warned women that wearing pajamas around men made them think about sex. And instead of going to the police when it happened, I continued to submit.

It’s incredible, really, how even the most absurd beliefs can embed themselves inside your psyche and stay there.

I am not that girl any longer. I’m older, wiser, and a bit tougher. I suppose that’s the up side of surviving something like that. You don’t make it unless you become stronger than you were, and I do not believe I’d submit to that abuse now. I think that’s partially because I know my real enemy: Christian patriarchy, the system that had shaped me and my attacker, too.

If the Christian church is concerned about abuse, it will have to divorce itself from patriarchy in all its incarnations.

It’s too late for me, and for Phillips’ victim, and for many, many others, but it’s not too late to protect the women and girls whose faith compels them to participate in Christian community.