Begging God To Make Me White: Rachel’s Story

race

Also by Rachel on HA: “Hurts Me More Than You: Rachel’s Story.”

I never realized what an anomaly my family was at homeschool conventions or homeschool co-ops until recently we ran into another Indian family at one. The first I have ever met. And they were only looking into homeschooling. They weren’t even homeschooling yet!

See, my family is not your typical homeschooling family. We’re brown. But more than that, we’re Indian. Like, from India.

And we are still the only Indian homeschool family to date that I know.

For years I’ve felt like an outsider at homeschool conventions because I would look around and every single other person was white, with either brown or red hair neatly tucked into a bun, a traditional jean jumper or skirt, and a nicely demure aura, and there I was with my brown skin, long straight black hair hanging loose, jeans, and gauzy shirt. You can imagine the looks I got.

And here’s where it gets personal.

Race is a very big thing in the homeschool community, I’ve discovered. Douglas Wilson has been skyrocketed into the spotlight for his classic white supremacist views, and his book excusing slavery in the American South, but before I even read his book I started having problems with a class I was taking at the time: Gileskirk Christendom, based on the beliefs of a certain Dr. George Grant. He portrayed Western Civilization, and, most notably white people, as the “greatest flowering of Christianity”, and descrys the rest of the world as pagan, primitive, and ungodly.

It’s as if Christianity equals White.

When I was 12 and 13 I had a mad crush on a young man who was a personal friend of our family. I thought he was fantastic. I adored him pretty much. But he was a good 7-8 years older than me and never realized my hopeless obsession. Before long I realized that there was no way he would ever fall for me, and I remember my mom telling me that it was hopeless because his mom would decide who he courted, and the girl he married would have to be white. (His mom was just that kind who read all the “white supremacy couched as christian” homeschool literature, and raised her kids on Westerns where white = good and dark = bad).

After all, good upstanding white Christian homeschooled guys want a “clean” girl. They want someone with white skin and brown hair, who’s tall and fair and a poster child for homeschooling. They don’t look for shorty curvy brown girls who have way too much passion and poetry in their veins.

And believe me, I’d read all the books. On how you had to be meek and quiet and not rebel or listen to secular music; and all the books made a white southern lifestyle seem equatable with Christianity. You know, where you didn’t go to college, and waited for the perfect Prince Charming. What particularly impacted my view, though, was that the books said that being seductive or sexy was “the sin of Bathsheba” therefore it was considered taboo.

Now, one considers white skin inherently “seductive” or “exotic”, yet those are exactly the stereotypes which come with having copper colored skin. I was convinced that had I only been white, he may have cared for me and it broke my heart and plunged me into extreme self-hatred.

I can remember writing a teary-eyed journal entry begging God to make me white because if I was white, then he would love me. Well, he turned out courting a girl who is just that: white. tall. fair. with brown – blonde hair and who’s pretty much perfect.

And while we all have ideas of what our first heartbreak will be, little did I think that it was my skin color which would break my heart.

I came across a small homeschool pamphlet on courtship yesterday which listed a number of factors which would disqualify a person as a potential spouse. One of them was entitled “race”.

My eyes filled with tears and I threw the book across the room.

It’s just that mindset which is so contrary to the Word of God which says that in Christ there is neither “Jew nor Greek” and that God is no “respecter of persons”, that frustrates me so much. Perhaps this is because I personally have experienced it. I know firsthand the destructive consequences.

It has taken me years to see anything beautiful in my skin color. It’s still a struggle. There are days I’m ok with it, and days I hate it because it’s so…. brown.

If race is something I have no control over, then what makes a white girl more christian simply because she, through no superiority or fault of her own, was born with less melanin in her skin than me?

And after years spent with SPF 100, whitening creams, etc. I give up.

I’m me and that has to be enough.

But I can 100% assure you that those books aren’t helping anything. It’s stupid to hold one skin color up as “better” than another. Because in the eyes of God we are all equal, no matter.

It’s about time the homeschool community discards the religious baloney and heads back to Scripture on this one.

The Reluctant Rebel: Gemma’s Story, Part Three

Homeschoolers U

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Gemma” is a pseudonym specifically chosen by the author.

< Part Two

Part Three: Sophomore Year

I had apparently made enough “progress” by the following fall semester, my sophomore year, that I was allowed to return to a wing with my friends and my old RA. However, it wasn’t long before I came to the definitive conclusion that Dean Wilson was an evil man by watching how he “counseled” one of my roommates who was dealing with a serious personal issue. He engaged in some of the most blatant, disgusting, misogynistic victim-blaming I have ever heard come out of a man’s mouth, and left my roommate even more grief-stricken and overwhelmed than she had been before.

Somehow it was easier to see the evil clearly when it was being inflicted on someone else.

That year, my RA and another popular student wrote a petition to the administration for the loosening of some of the more restrictive rules, especially regarding the interaction of male and female students. This petition was actually relatively successful, and in the aftermath it seemed like people could breathe again. I remember going to an off-campus basketball game shortly after this and seeing girls and guys in the bleachers, rubbing shoulders and leaning back against each other’s knees—just like normal college kids would do. It made me happy—my friends and I acted like this in high school. It seemed normal and familiar.

I also remember, in the time between the delivery of the petition and the administration’s positive response, my RA hiding—literally hiding—in her dorm room, ducking from the view of the window, or sitting in the hallway trying to breathe and slow her rapid heart beat. She had done the right thing, but she was terrified of Dean Wilson, and of the nameless atmosphere of fear we were all drowning in. She laughed at the absurdity of her “hiding,” but the feeling was real and we all knew it.

Academically, the school was living up to its reputation. In fact, I think one of the reasons the student life issues were so important to everyone is that we had so little chance to socialize as it was. Most of our time was spent studying, trying to conquer the unconquerable mountain of work we were assigned. My classes were extremely difficult, but very rewarding. Most of the professors seemed genuinely to enjoy their students. Some would routinely hold court in the dining hall between and after classes, answering questions, doling out advice, mostly just joking around or facilitating lighthearted debates.

But there was a growing split between the administration and the Office of Student Life, on the one hand, and the academic side of the school, on the other. We started to articulate it even then to outsiders who asked: the education here is great, but the culture is oppressive. Dean Wilson took it personally that the professors—and let’s face it, many of the students—were smarter than he was. He and his favored students started ruminating on the pride of intellectualism, the vanity of worldly philosophy, and the greater goodness of purity of heart and devotion to Scripture. It was spoken of as an either/or dilemma—smart, prideful, sinful people vs. lowly, humble, pure people.

It was around this time that several friends and I had started a campus group called the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. We semi-regularly published a journal of academic writing, book, music, and movie reviews, and opinion pieces. We also hosted guest lecturers on a variety of topics, from international relations to medieval literature to film criticism. Our stated mission was to further intellectual dialogue on campus. It was definitely an intellectually-focused club, but our mission was to serve the campus as a whole, not to show off. But ATS attracted the “wrong” kind of students, and it wasn’t long before “ATS” became a byword for “troublemakers.” We embodied that “intellectual elitism” Dean Wilson hated so much, and the administration began to view us with suspicion.

I now recognize this anti-intellectualism and many other of Dean Wilson’s teachings in what has been written recently about Bill Gothard and other authoritarian homeschool leaders.

For instance, Dean Wilson repeatedly admonished us not to take up another person’s offense—a teaching so bizarre and idiosyncratic I recognized it immediately when it appeared recently on the Recovering Grace website. Another example is this page from the ATI Basic Seminar textbook. Again, I discovered this only recently, but was shocked to see how neatly it summed up so much of what the students branded as “rebels” endured from our fellow students and from Student Life and the administration:

Basic Seminar Page

I know these teachings seem commonplace to those who grew up in systems like these. You have to imagine how bewildering and alienating these judgmental attitudes seemed to those of us who literally had no context to understand how we were being perceived, or why. I didn’t go into college wanting to be a rebel. I was a good, homeschooled, Christian girl. I memorized Scripture by the chapter, volunteered at AWANA, and played praise songs on the piano. I’d never even had a boyfriend before college. But at PHC, just by living my (good) life and being myself, I was branded a “rebel.” It was like there was this invisible line I was constantly crossing, which everyone could see except me. The only people who made sense to me were the other “rebels.” After a while, it just got psychologically demoralizing. I don’t even know what you people want from me, so fine, I’m a “rebel.”

Dean Wilson was a strong adherent of Doug Wilson and the Pearls. In our weekly small-group wing chapels, we were given writings from Wilson and the Pearls to study and discuss.

Here, for example, is the actual handout we studied in one wing chapel, probably during the 2003-2004 school year. The name and book title are mysteriously missing, but anyone familiar with the material can recognize it as a page straight out of Debi Pearl’s Created To Be His Help Meet.

ctbhhm

From what I’ve heard, the men were indoctrinated with these materials even more than the women. It wasn’t like everyone on campus necessarily accepted these things at face value—in my wing of relatively fashion-forward women, I remember us all kind of giggling at one piece of Doug Wilson’s that condemned high heels. But even if everyone didn’t accept them, the presence of these writings and teachings added to the overall atmosphere. Now, it entered the minds of everyone that girls who wore high heels were sluttier than girls who didn’t. Now, wearing heels meant something it hadn’t meant before.

Mike Farris has recently distanced himself from people like Gothard, Phillips, Wilson, and other extremists and has claimed that he rejects their teachings. I think it is true that he, personally, does not hold to many of their more extreme beliefs.

But he allowed these extreme views to circulate on his campus with a stamp of official approval.

He allowed his hand-picked Dean of Student Life and this dean’s favorite, very conservative students to dominate the campus culture with their extremism. He should have known this was going on. If he knew, he never said anything.

And Mike Farris had no qualms about saying something when he thought something needed to be said! Once, a student wrote an article for the student newspaper with the Slate-esque headline of “Why Bono Is A Better Christian Than You.” This piece prompted Farris to respond with an entire chapel sermon on why cursing is bad and demonstrates that one is not a true Christian. Afterward, he spoke jovially with the author of the article, slapping him on the back in a “no harm, no foul” kind of way. But not surprisingly, this response had a chilling effect on the further publication of controversial pieces in campus newspapers.

Another time, Farris got wind that some students had been dabbling in libertarianism. This prompted another chapel sermon, a fiery one in which he denounced libertarians as no better than child molesters.

So it’s not like he ever hesitated to address campus trends that bothered him, publicly and personally.

My best guess is that Mike Farris and Paul Wilson personally benefitted from a campus culture of total submission to authority. Many ultra-conservative students came from backgrounds that said parents, pastors, and government must be obeyed without question and respected without complaint. Questions and complaints were no better than defiance, and defiance of authority was an unforgivable sin. It was very easy for these students to add “college administrators” to that list of unquestionable authorities.

Knowing what I know now, I can see where that mindset comes from. At the time, I thought I was surrounded by a bizarre species of human who spoke some kind of foreign code. At least, I never could seem to get through to them with normal English words, or logic, or questions like Where in the Bible does it say it is evil to question a college administrator? And many of them—especially the young men—didn’t even seem capable of looking me in the face when I talked, or acknowledging anything I had to say. I think Farris tacitly (and Wilson explicitly) approved of this state of affairs, because it gave them power and control over the student body.

That, or he just didn’t know that his students were being forced to study patriarchalist writers and imbibe cultic teachings under the guise of not only administrative, but religious authority—but he really, really should have known.

One final example of the split between the academic and student-life cultures on campus came towards the end of my sophomore year. A reporter from the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick, came to visit the campus for a story he was writing. Reporters were on campus all the time. PHC was huge media bait during its first few years in existence, and the administration was only too happy to show us off to the world. At first, it was kind of fun to interact with reporters, but after a while, you just feel like a specimen being examined. I guess it never occurred to the administrators that it’s actually really hard to pay attention in class when there’s a massive camera in your face. The students joked about campus being a “fishbowl,” a double reference to the utter lack of privacy within and the constant prying eyes from without.

At any rate, when David Kirkpatrick arrived, he came to visit my class. I was taking a course called “Modernity, Post-modernity, and Society,” a political theory elective intentionally modeled on a graduate-level, seminar-style course. We were reading and discussing Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition on the day Mr. Kirkpatrick sat in on our class. At the end of the class, he complimented the students and the professor on the level of engagement with text we had displayed. He himself had read The Human Condition—in graduate school—and he noted that we had handled the text as well as any of his graduate classmates had.

I was, of course, pleased with the compliment—but even more pleased that this reporter from the New York Times had seen the good side of PHC, the academic side, before encountering whatever weirdness he was sure to find if he hung around long enough.

And it didn’t take long at all. By the time I got to lunch, he was in the dining hall, surrounded by a table full of girls in long prairie skirts. The article led with a photo of students walking on campus, noting that students “may show affection publicly only by holding hands while walking”—one of the more arcane rules from the rulebook.

There was no mention of Arendt or graduate-style seminar courses.

Part Four >

11 Homeschool Celebrities Explained With GIFs

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Homeschool celebrities.

They run our lobbying organizations, write our books, and garner all our blog views. Our parents thought they were God’s messengers and we thought we should keep our thoughts to ourselves. Now that we’re grown, our perspectives have changed a bit. So we think it’s worthwhile to look at 11 current and former homeschool celebrities — and explain them using gifs.

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1. Michael and Debi Pearl

The Pearls have a unique approach to communicating the love of Jesus to children. It goes something like this:

love

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2. Doug Phillips

Last year Doug Phillips realized his most Hazardous Journey wasn’t a vacation. It was the public backlash against revelations that he had an extramarital relationship with a woman that involved — well, we weren’t sure exactly what it involved.

When Phillips first admitted infidelity, he spun it as just some species of “emotional fornication” or something:

phillipspre

But then it came out that, no, the relationship wasn’t just “inappropriately romantic and affectionate,” as he originally stated. The “relationship” was Doug Phillips repeatedly sexually abusing a young woman. As far as his original statement went, Phillips was suddenly like:

phillips

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3. Bill Gothard

Bill Gothard, like Doug Phillips, has discovered that sexually abusing young people doesn’t make you popular. However, unlike Phillips, Gothard faces over 30 individuals accusing him of abuse. At this point his attempts to explain his situation are sounding like this:

jennifer-lawrence-gif-2

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4. James and Stacy McDonald

As the media and homeschoolers are circling the wagons around Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, their former fans with crushes on Patriarchy are doing everything possible to now hide that fact. People like James and Stacy McDonald are pulling previously written posts and urging Patriarchy advocates to change the words they use. The McDonalds’ response here boils down to:

“No Patriarchy to see here. Move along!”

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5. Doug Wilson

Then of course there’s Doug Wilson. When he’s not too busy with obsessing over the latest blog post by Rachel Held Evans, Wilson is fighting the biggest threat Western Civilization has ever faced: women playing unladylike basketball.

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6. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have a TV show. The plot of that TV show can be described by staring at this gif for approximately 19 seconds… and counting…

duggar

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7. Ken Ham

No homeschool celebrity list would be complete without a shout-out to Ken Ham. If you find it somewhat difficult to believe Adam and Eve enjoyed candlelight dinners on the backs of dinosaurs while trying to avoid talking snakes, well, Ken Ham has one message for you:

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8. Kevin Swanson

Kevin Swanson is like the Drunk Uncle of Christian homeschooling. From defending child marriage, comparing child abuse to “dead little bunnies,” warning people Frozen is Satan’s attempt to indoctrinate children into “the lifestyle of sodomy,” to his actual statement that “There’s a contrast between the feces-eaters and the church,” sometimes we wonder if he rocks himself to sleep at night screaming,

swanson

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9. Mary Pride

Mary Pride found her way home in 1985. It involved outbreeding non-Christians and calling children “the new n*****s.” When it comes to people and organizations working tirelessly to protect children from abuse, Pride is all,

pride

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10. Michael Farris

In the midst of all the drama in the homeschooling world, Michael Farris stands in the foreground leading the charge against Obama, Common Core, and the not-Nazi Germans who hate homeschooling as much as he loves freedom. And Michael Farris loves his freedom:

freedom

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11. Matt Walsh

Ah yes. Finally, there’s Matt Walsh:

loud-noises

Why Christian Homeschooling Culture Is Not a Safe Space

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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 26, 2014.

Some months ago I stated in a blog post that I was becoming increasingly convinced that Christian homeschooling culture is not a safe space for young women and girls. A reader objected in the comments section, misunderstanding I think both what I meant by “Christian homeschooling culture” and “safe space.”  Regardless, reading various figures’ responses to the Doug Phillips scandal, and how they discuss Lourdes Torres, Phillips’ victim, has made my assessment only more firm.

There’s this from Doug Wilson’s recent blog post, Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum:

But if his attentions were entirely unwelcome to her, and she was freaked out by the creepster, then we have to ask why she wasn’t down the road at the first opportunity — that night or the next morning — with Doug Phillips receiving notification of her opinion of what transpired via the sound of sirens. That’s not what happened, on anyone’s account, and so I don’t think we should identify her as a victim.

For someone who makes his livelihood counseling his parishioners, Wilson shows a stunning lack of understanding of any of the dynamics of abuse. He reiterates his statement in the comments section:

In other words, according to Wilson, if an abuse victim does not get out of the situation at the very first opportunity, she (or he) cannot be identified as a victim. We might as well ask this of every case where a male partner is abusive: “If his abuse was not welcomed by her, then we have to ask why she didn’t leave at the first opportunity, say the first night or the very next morning.” But of course, this is ridiculous. There are a million reasons abused women do not leave the moment their abuse starts. For one thing, it usually begins little by little, and not all at once. But beyond that are plenty of reasons both physical and psychological.

If someone who is a leader and an influential figure in this culture is so clueless as to the dynamics of abuse, how much hope is there that more local leaders will be any less ignorant?

But let’s stop and ask ourselves a question Wilson doesn’t think to ask—what would have happened if Lourdes had come forward about Phillips’ actions? What if she had told other leaders in Phillips’ church, as Wilson would probably prefer, given his propensity for preferring the Matthew 18 approach over civil courts?

First of all, if Lourdes had gone to her church elders they likely would have suspected her of lying. After all, Phillips was a very well respected leader. When the scandal broke several months ago, there were many that had trouble believing it even then. How much more unbelievable would it have been without a paper trail of sorts stretching back for years? Further, Phillips was one of the church elders. These would have been his friends Torres would have been going to. In all likelihood, they would have called him in and asked him what happened, he would have explained it away as nothing, they would have believed him, and that would have been the end of it.

After all, that’s exactly what Gothard did over and over and over again. Someone would say something, some rumor would surface, and Gothard’s board of directors would talk to him about it. He would assure them it was nothing, and they would tell him to be more careful in the future, and everything would go on just as before.

Second, even if Lourdes had gone to her church elders and they had believed that some level of impropriety was going on, they likely would have placed some of the blame on her—even if she went to them immediately. They would have asked her what she had done to lead him on, what she had said or worn or done. They would have asked her if she had fought him off, or if she actually wanted his overtures, and so on. And they very likely would have seen her as tainted herself.

After all, that’s exactly what has happened when female victims have gone to the authorities at Bob Jones University, and Patrick Henry College, and Pensacola Christian College. They’ve been told they must have been asking for it, they’ve been questioned about their clothing or their behavior, and so on.

I also have very little faith in the local church authorities Lourdes would have approached had she followed Matthew 18.

After all, we know that the other leaders in Doug Phillips church knew full well what was going on over six months before Phillips issued his public apology, and over six months before the Vision Forum board of directors decided to shut the ministry down. In February of 2013 Phillips was removed from his position as elder at his church because of his actions, but he was allowed to go on speaking and serving as an influential public figure, even though he had in his personal life made a lie of everything he said from his public platform.

In this culture, the criteria for being a victim is very narrow. If you are among the few who fit the criteria, you receive all the support they can give you, and your abuser alone is condemned as guilty. However, if you don’t fit the criteria you stand guilty and implicated in what happened alongside your abuser. What, you didn’t leave him the first time he raped you? And you say you’re a victim?

It is because of these sorts of narratives and beliefs that I said what I did about Christian homeschooling culture not being a safe space for girls and young women. Yes, this very culture claims to care very much about protecting girls and young women, and many leaders find justification for patriarchy in just that. But while their words say one thing, the systems they create and beliefs they embrace create something very different altogether.

And if my saying this upsets readers, they should focus their energies on combatting these narratives, not on expressing their shock that I could say such a thing.

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 Not

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

“Patriarchy” has suddenly become a dirty word in the homeschooling movement. Whereas a short while ago it was a badge of honor, a symbol of pure righteous manliness, now leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from this word. They are swearing left and right that they aren’t “it” and they never were “it” and gosh, why are people saying they are? They have been so gracious about “allowing” their daughters the privilege of wearing pants — or the privilege to go to college — they, the men with the divine authority, have allowed this. How could anyone think poorly of them?

The sudden energy exerted by these leaders to claim they oppose Patriarchy has reached corners that are so actually patriarchical it has become almost humorous to observe. Kevin Swanson recently wrote a post on April 18 where he matter-of-factly declares, “I am not a patriarchal-ist. I have never been a patriarchal-ist, and I’ve never called myself a patriarchal-ist.” As evidence he offers the following statement: “It is no sin for a woman to take college level classes.”

Well, gee, that settles that. I eagerly await Bill Gothard’s declaration that he’s not a legalism-ist.

As news about the predatory conduct of Doug Phillips — one of the key figures in the Christian Patriarchy movement — and Bill Gothard — one of the most ardent advocates of Legalism — spreads into the mainstream media, this will become a more common occurrence. The problems plaguing the Christian Homeschooling Movement will be chalked up to “Christian Patriarchy” and “Legalism.” Leaders will swear they aren’t those things and therefore they’re safe. We will be tempted to become fixated on labels and forget that labels aren’t the problem. The problem, as Libby Anne points out, are “the beliefs [they’re] promoting.”

Furthermore, while I agree with Libby Anne that the beliefs should take central stage, I am mystified because few people seem to understand the words themselves. And I wonder whether that’s why the beliefs are getting the short end of the stick. We’ve turned “Christian Patriarchy” into this bizarre caricature — i.e., “not letting your daughters go to college” — that’s completely untrue. Go look at Vision Forum’s “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy.” Not letting your daughters go to college is not on the list. We’re collapsing so many different categories — Quiverfull, Christian Patriarchy, general Patriarchy, Stay-At-Home-Daughter Movement, Complementarianism, etc. — that these words are becoming powerless.

A fundamental rule of communication is this: “The One Who Defines the Terms Controls the Argument.”

This is true.

But there is another fundamental rule of communication: “The One Who Employs the Definitions Sloppily Loses Control of the Argument.”

We’re at a point now where someone has claimed that Patrick Henry College is not patriarchical and “proved” it by describing the college in blatantly patriarchical terms. And the reason for that is simple: we’ve exchanged the phrase “Christian Patriarchy” for “Patriarchy,” when the former is simply a particularly extreme version of the latter. Patriarchy is any and every system based on male authority and dominance, one manifestation of which is Christian Patriarchy. We’re also at a point where Michael Farris is confusingly equating “Quiverfull” with “Patriarchy”: not only did he think “not sending your daughters to college” had something to do with “Quiverfull,” he also thought that “not sending your daughters to college” (a caricature of Christian Patriarchy) was the definition of Patriarchy (which is has nothing to do with whether or not your daughters go to college).

So I’d like to dispel a few myths about what Christian Patriarchy is. I’d like to emphasize that, by saying Christian Patriarchy isn’t these things, I’m not saying it cannot be. I am saying it is so much bigger than these things. To limit it to these things enables misdirection.

Myth #1: Christian Patriarchy is Patriarchy.

Christian Patriarchy is Patriarchy in one sense: insofar as Christian Patriarchy is a system based on male authority and dominance, it is a subset of Patriarchy. But as I stated previously, Patriarchy — being a system based on male authority and dominance — is huge. Any system grounded in male authority and dominance is Patriarchy. Thus even Complementarianism — however mild or extreme — is still Patriarchy because it still rests upon the foundational idea that males have a unique authority or right to dominance.

When we say that, “Oh, ____ isn’t into Patriarchy” — when we what we mean is, “Oh, ____ isn’t into Christian Patriarchy” — we are giving someone an opportunity to downplay the fact that they are still into Patriarchy. And the problem with the subset of Christian Patriarchy isn’t that its an extreme version of Patriarchy. The problem is that it is Patriarchy. Period.

So for example, Michael Farris does believe in and advocate for Patriarchy. Just observe any of the politicians he endorses or, simpler yet, read his 2004 book What A Daughter Needs From her Dad. Sure, Farris doesn’t believe in and advocate for the limited caricature of Christian Patriarchy where daughters can’t go to college. But again, as stated earlier, even that’s a caricature of Christian Patriarchy (as we’ll discuss shortly). Michael Farris agrees with Christian Patriarchy far more than he disagrees with it.

Myth #2: Christian Patriarchy is Quiverfull.

Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy are often confused as the same thing. In fact, Michael Farris himself has confused these categories, when he said that he does “believe women should go to college.” Whether or not you let your daughters go to college has nothing to do with Quiverfull. Quiverfull is, more or less, a specifically Christian form of natalism — the idea of employing procreation as a tool of sociopolitical dominion and categorizing birth control as rebellion against God. Michael Pearl gave us a perfect embodiment of Quiverfull’s dominionist streak, when he recently stated,

“If you can’t out-vote them today, out-breed them for tomorrow.”

That is Quiverfull (albeit a distilled, intense version of it). And see, that sentiment could exist in a matriarchicial society. (In fact, Mary Pride — often considered “the Queen of Quiverfull” — personally insinuated that she believes in Matriarchy more than Patriarchy. Though she has a nonsensical definition of Matriarchy, she has harsh words for Christian Patriarchy advocates.)

Yes, there are many advocates of Christian Patriarchy who are Quiverfull. And by all means, speak out against the dehumanizing and toxic idea that your children are your weapons, and a woman’s vagina is a weapons-building factory.

But remember these are distinct, especially considering there are many advocates of Christian Patriarchy who are not Quiverfull. Take Doug Wilson, for example. Doug Wilson is considered one of the pillars of Christian Patriarchy but believes birth control can be useful to ensure you’re actually taking care of your current children. That’s outright heresy to the Quiverfull crowd.

Myth #3: Christian Patriarchy is Opposed to Daughters Going to College.

The Stay-At-Home-Daughter Movement rose out of Christian Patriarchy. Indeed, many of this movement’s advocates — for example, Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, and Geoff Botkin, who promoted or were featured in the film, “Return of the Daughters” — are giants in the Christian Patriarchy movement. But — and this is crucial — not all advocates of Christian Patriarchy believe daughters cannot go to college. In fact, the majority of them are okay with it, provided their daughters (1) are still at home while attending college, (2) do not go to a secular college, and (3) study something relevant to “domestic affairs.” There is plenty to critique about that criteria, but using this “can daughters can go to college” litmus test is a red herring. Case in point: Baucham’s daughter Jasmine — while still living at home — not only has a Bachelors degree but is currently pursuing a Masters degree.

And this isn’t a “new” development in Christian Patriarchy. John Thompson, writing in Patriarch Magazine (a cornerstone publication of the Christian Patriarchy movement during the 90’s), articulated over a decade ago that it was tolerable to let your daughter get college-educated provided that education is gender-oriented and via home study.

So, again — this college litmus test is a red herring.

Myth #4: Christian Patriarchy is two steps away from wearing a burka.

This myth was articulated a few days ago, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Seriously, let’s look at two images of the daughters of popular proponents of Christian Patriarchy:

Geoff Botkin’s daughters, Anna-Sofia and Elizabeth:

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Voddie Baucham’s daughter, Jasmine:

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Burkas? Seriously?

Look, there are many, many parallels and connections between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism that one can make. Likewise, there are many, many parallels and connections between Christian Patriarchy and Islamic Patriarchy that one can make. The parallels exist because fundamentalism and patriarchy as systems transcend people groups and cultures. Identifying and speaking out against those parallels and connections is important; it should be done frequently, passionately, and loudly.

However, to say that, “Christian Patriarchy is two steps away from wearing a burka” is an asinine argument. Christian Patriarchy is not defined by clothing. Yes, there are many people within the Christian Patriarchy movement who have swallowed Modesty Culture. In fact, the above two images do not disprove this. (“Modesty Culture,” like Christian Patriarchy, is not defined by how many “steps” it is away from wearing a burka.) But they do demonstrate that slapping Christian Patriarchy with “burka” confuses the issue.

Myth #5: Christian Patriarchy is Limited to Homeschooling.

This is the weirdest myth. Rumor has it that Christian Patriarchy advocates are only into homeschooling, whereas Christian Patriarchy opponents tolerate other forms of education — for example, classical education in a private Christian school.

This is pure nonsense. Doug Wilson adamantly and vocally prefers private classical Christian education to homeschooling. He personally founded a private school and did not homeschool his kids. In his 1991 book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Wilson makes clear that he believes “classical private schools to be superior to classical homeschooling.” He states his case so strongly, in fact, that some say “he condemns home school as a viable option,” and one homeschooling parent demanded he “stop being asked to speak at homeschool events.” In his own words, though, it’s not so much homeschooling itself that he objects as much as it is “a radical home-centeredness” that “[insists] that the home can not only replace the school, but also the church and the civil magistrate.”

An appreciation of private Christian education among Christian Patriarchy advocates is not limited to Wilson. R.C. Sproul, Jr. — who co-wrote Vision Forum’s “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” with Doug Phillips — agrees to some extent with Wilson. In October 2011, Sproul Jr. said that, ultimately, what’s important is Christian education that teaches “day in and day out the Lordship of Christ over all things,” and thus “the real issue is the secular perspective of the public schools, more than the methodology of homeschooling versus Christian schooling.”

Similarly, Patriarch Magazine argued over a decade ago that, while homeschooling is “ideal,” “Christian schools are a commendable alternative to the degenerate state schools.”

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It is pretty amazing that “Christian Patriarchy” as a specific concept — and Patriarchy as a general system — is finally being widely discussed among Christian homeschoolers. Seriously. It is amazing. This is the first step towards wider awareness and change: our vocabulary is being adopted and we can point to that vocabulary to facilitate conversation.

However, we take a step backwards if we start equivocating between terms and diminish those terms’ potency. If you are new to this conversation, please take the time to educate yourself about what these words mean. Libby Anne has a great breakdown of what “Christian Patriarchy” is that she wrote in 2012. Read it. Think about it. Also read about what Patriarchy is and how it differs from the specific subset of Christian/Biblical Patriarchy. Educate yourself about how similar Christian Patriarchy and Complementarianism are (and arguably even identical), and why both are Patriarchy. (And while you’re at it, look up Kyriarchy, too.)

Then reassess this mass hysteria among homeschool leaders who are begging us to consider them anti-Patriarchy. Because they are not.

Sugar-coated Patriarchy is still Patriarchy.

A Quick and Dirty Sex Ed Guide for Quiverfull Daughters: By Heather Doney

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Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Heather Doney’s blog Becoming Worldly. It was originally published on April 6, 2013.

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This post is NSFW (not safe to read at work).

I got the idea to write this because I read this and this and something saying that only 67% of women in some study of “mainstream Americans” reported having an orgasm the last time they had sex, while men reported a rate of 91%. The worst bit of info from that study was that in a “hookup” only 11% of women had an orgasm (an incredibly damning statistic for the hookup culture if you ask me). Also, 10-15% of ordinary women are thought to have never had an orgasm. I thought “Ooh, this is bad. What gives?” I imagined that among people who grew up with the Quiverfull teachings I did that that rate is likely even worse. Then it made me think of this quote by Douglas Wilson, which just makes me shudder.

“When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.”

Awful perspective, right? So that’s why, although I’ve already talked about some serious issues with the role of sex in the movement before, I decided to approach it from a different angle today. Sexuality is something that is personal, that is yours to make decisions about, no matter what you may have been talked into believing to the contrary (don’t even get me started on the “pieces of your heart” talk, the many sneakily layered meanings of the word “modesty,” or the hints starting at a young age about how a certain kind of “giving of yourself” will be required by your imaginary future husband). So that’s why today I decided to write bluntly about how to enjoy sex as a woman, particularly as a woman raised in the Quiverfull/Christian patriarchy homeschooling movement.

I figured that as someone who has taken a human sexual behavior class in college (and made an “A”), never faked an orgasm or felt there was reason to (both expecting and generally having actual real ones when getting it on with her man), and who also grew up the Quiverfull way, with the purity teachings and attending a succession of home births and whatnot, that perhaps I have some useful things I can share about sex.

Still, I want to make clear that I don’t figure I am some expert or even that I am particularly experienced in this arena. In fact, I’ve only kissed four guys in my life (which is apparently about 3 more than your average Quiverfull daughter is supposed to). Still, learning how to have good sex was a problem for me in the past, but today I thoroughly appreciate and enjoy it. Sex is a natural human thing, nothing to be ashamed or shy about, and I am happy that it exists. Thing is, wanting it is instinct, knowing how to actually do it, or be responsible about it, not as much so.

Also, I am only addressing some basics of heterosexual sex here, largely in the context of a loving relationship, because that’s my thing. If you need to know more about GLBT stuff or healing from sexual abuse, or anything regarding less “mainstream” practices, there are others that could likely provide much better resources.

Discovering What You’re Working With

I know we were raised to see masturbation as wrong, as some sin or sex addiction problem, but I don’t think they characterized that exactly right. (Although obviously it can be an issue if you are regularly choosing masturbation over sex with a willing spouse.) Anyway, regardless of how you feel about masturbation, here is my case for at least trying it: if you have never had an orgasm by yourself it’ll be a lot harder for your partner to figure out how to give you one.

Also, different people like different things and sometimes you’ll find yourself wanting different things depending on what mood (or what part of your cycle) you are in. So take some private time and check out your body. Here is a simple guide as to what you might be looking for.

If you are comfortable with it, and if you aren’t that’s okay (this is where I definitely deviate from any advice you might ever hear from Quiverfull parents), you might even want to consider getting a couple items that can be nice for a girl to own (particularly if you are forgoing sex and waiting for the right guy and/or the right wedding ring). Some women report discovering the difference between a vaginal and clitoral orgasm (even though technically they’re both clitoral, just different parts of it) with one of these. One of these can be fun and used with a partner too.

Before “Going There” 

Before ever doing the deed you should know what the main parts of the male body are and how they typically function so you can understand and enjoy them (obviously). Here’s some excellent diagrams that explain it all nicely. Then, because you likely already know that sex causes babies (and I imagine are likely already more familiar with the gestation cycle, birth, and infant care side of things than the average person) I will skip past that part (read here if you need it) and just say that if you are not up for pregnancy (and hey, I’m still not) you should find a birth control method that’s right for you. Here is a nice chart with the effectiveness levels for various kinds.

Also, I could write at least five whole posts on Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy sex myth busting but the bottom line is that no matter what people might have told you (or mistakenly believed themselves), getting on the pill does not cause abortions and condoms do significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other icky things you don’t want. We were taught a lot of garbage by people who wanted to control our fertility.

About STI’s (formerly called STD’s) – they are common and most are treatable. If you think you might have been exposed to one, go get tested. If you think he has, make him go get tested. Testing is not a big deal. Pelvic inflammatory disease is. Women are more vulnerable to the ravages of STI’s than men thanks to the shape of our bodies (yeah, um, thanks a lot mother nature!) and often women don’t have symptoms or know they caught one. Some untreated STI’s can cause cervical cancer or fertility problems due to Fallopian tube scarring. (Not meaning to scare you here, just being straight up.) When in doubt, get tested. Anyway, I put STI’s up here near the top because they are important, but I want to clarify that you don’t generally contract STI’s without doing explicitly sexual things with someone who has an STI (and you generally can’t tell if someone does or not just by looking). Also, if someone says they got an STI from a toilet seat it is exceedingly likely that they just found it to be a more comfortable explanation than saying how they really got it. Anyway, on to happier topics…

Chemistry and Choosing Who to Sleep With

So I am a romantic and I also love this poem. I think good sex has a lot to do with chemistry, and chemistry has a lot to do with feeling love, respect, and genetic compatibility. If you are going to sleep with someone (totally not judging here as to who that might be, except to advise that you don’t sleep with someone who is in a committed relationship with someone else or someone who treats you disrespectfully) you should first get to know them (I know, crazy idea, right?) because the brain is one of the most important sex organs. Physical “hotness” only goes so far. If they look amazing but are annoying or make you raise one eyebrow and shake your head in disgust, or have you wanting to ask them to be nicer to the waitress or their mother or to stop talking trash about their ex (three big red flags!), don’t go there.

If they are brilliant smart, kindhearted and funny, and smile in a way that makes you just have to smile and crinkle up the corners of your eyes too, then they pass the first test. Then, after you get to know them (and this is according to your time frame, not mine), you should hold hands and make out a lot.

If your kissing partner tastes bad (and bathing/brushing their teeth and refraining from garlic don’t seem to help) don’t sleep with them. Politely move on. It is biology trying to tell you something. You are not a good match. Bad kissing = bad sex. If your body likes them, there are ways to know. If not, you’re not doing them or you any favors by faking it. Trust your instinct. If their natural scent smells sweet, if holding hands with them puts you on cloud nine, then a proper amount of physical attraction is there. All the “pink spots” on your body (lips, nipples, hands and feet, genitals) have these things called Meisner’s corpuscles in them. That might sound like a boring scientific term but the sensation they describe is not. It doesn’t have to be sexual but it can be when you are feeling attraction. That’s why holding hands with someone you are attracted to can really feel electrifying.

When you feel electrified like that you’ll likely find your mind floating towards wanting more intimacy, more skin contact with this person. However, just because you (and/or your partner) feel aroused (increased blood flow to your privates, an erection in men, a feeling of being “wet down there” in women) does not mean you need to act on it. We are human beings, not animals. You have a choice. They have a choice. Nobody will explode or keel over and die from lack of sex. Pressuring someone for sexual activity is not okay and this also goes for when you are the person being pressured. If he asks you and you don’t feel right about it (this goes for whether you are married to him or not) then don’t do it. If you do want to, then say so and see what he says.

Dispelling a Few Myths

– I had a laugh the other day with some former homeschooled girls who said they used to think “oral sex” meant French kissing, admitting I used to think this too back in my sheltered homeschool days. It definitely does not.

– Don’t imagine you are somehow “unable” to get pregnant and not take precautions based on that.

– Don’t think that having sex automatically means the other person will consider you as being in a relationship (or bound for the alter) because of it. If you haven’t talked about this beforehand then you’re just two people who had sex.

– Don’t have sex with someone you are not okay with being in love with. Sex is a powerful and sneaky thing and can make or break relationships even when you have other plans.

Getting it On

If/when you know the person you want to have sex with well enough, feel comfortable with doing so, and you have an opportunity where you both agree on it (consent, ever-present as an important component), have at it. Happily take off your clothes, explore, ask questions, try things, feel the love. You can go for it all at once or spread out this exploration into “steps” as you get to know one another. It’s up to you.

Don’t expect your partner to know what you need or for you to know what they need. They are learning too. That’s what practice and talking is for. However experienced or non-experienced your partner is, you will still have to learn what they like, what you like, and what you like to do together. It will be an adventure and just like not everyone has a taste for spicy food, not every girl likes having her hair pulled and her bottom slapped or her toes sucked on (but some certainly do, and provided you’re cool with it, have fun).

If one or both of you are virgins, the first time will likely be awkward and for women it very well may hurt and you might bleed (these are both generalizations, btw, and definitely not the rule). Always tell your partner if something they are doing feels painful and if they need to do it differently or stop. If you don’t like it, you can say stop at any time. If you do like something, say you like it so he’ll know. Also, if you want something, ask for it. Even if it feels awkward to talk about sex, remind yourself that it isn’t any more so than actually doing it. Besides, your partner won’t know unless you say what’s on your mind. Still, be gentle with their feelings.

Sex is a vulnerable thing.

If you just can’t seem to make it work, read up on vaginismus. Girls who grew up in sexually repressive environments or have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to have this condition. There are also other sexual dysfunctions that could be at play too, on your part or his.

If you are sleeping with someone who has slept with other people before, don’t judge them or sex shame them. This is pretty normal in mainstream American culture and no slight against you. You can ask them their “number” if you want to know, but if they want to keep that private their wishes should be respected. What you should always ask is if you might be at risk for STI’s before either of your clothes come off. Just because they look “clean” doesn’t mean they are. If they don’t know for sure, tell them to get tested. Also, when in doubt, always use a condom. Condoms are honestly not all that awesome in my opinion but they have their place. They are also not nearly as “useless” or “bad” as we were taught they were growing up. If used properly, they actually do prevent many STI’s and unwanted pregnancy. If you find you are allergic to latex or spermicide make sure to go with latex-free and spermicide free varieties. Also, it’s really not any more awkward to buy a box of them at the store than it is to buy a box of Kotex.

Making Sure it’s “Good” Sex

So foreplay (kissing, touching, whispering sexy things to each other, perhaps oral sex) is fun, will help you figure out what you’re in the mood for, and make the actual sex better. It is also a way to set the stage for both people’s pleasure to be seen as equally valuable, desirable, and necessary. If you feel self-conscious about your body or exploring different things, light a candle or two and forget about it. Everyone looks good by candlelight.

Read about various positions (this cartoon couple is positively adorable, aren’t they?), discuss them together, and try out the ones that look cool so you can figure out what you like.

When it comes to orgasms most women report needing their clitoris rubbed, meaning orgasm happens more easily through either oral sex or “woman on top” sex where you or he touch your clitoris while you have sex. I used to not know this and thought there was something wrong with me but since learned that this is not weird but instead totally normal – standard stuff that women usually need that somehow still gets ignored in our patriarchal (i.e. overly penis-centered) culture.

Also, there’s this myth that you are supposed to orgasm at the same time. Reality is it happens that way sometimes but it is a treat, not the norm. Most of the time one partner does before the other or even prefers a totally different position to come in than the other. Ideally it should be the woman who comes first (perhaps even multiple times) but sometimes (especially when guys are young or haven’t had sex in a while) it isn’t. Then a polite guy will either do something else to satisfy you, or wait a little bit before he can get an erection again (yeah, gotta love the “refractory period”) and give it another go. A rude guy will roll over and go to sleep. If you have a rude guy, call him on it and ask for what you need. Don’t let him get away with thinking sex is meant to be anything less than an egalitarian pleasuring party!

Note: I know that in writing something like this (which I thought about for a long time before putting up) I am sharing things that are still pretty taboo for a woman to speak about openly but particularly so for a woman from my background. I decided to post it anyway. I also know that creepers are gonna creep, so I just want to say I don’t want to get any objectifying blog comments saying I am “hot” or “not hot” or other remarks of that nature. I am both unavailable and quite uninterested in receiving such stuff, thanks.

This post is solely here as a public service type thing.

Doug Wilson Uses Vision Forum Scandal to Defend Patriarchy

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HA note: This following is reprinted with permission from Ahab’s blog, Republic of Gilead. It was originally published on November 13, 2013.

Doug Phillips and Vision Forum Ministries were prominent in the Christian Patriarchy Movement, so their recent scandals have brought fresh attention to the movement. On October 30th, Doug Phillips resigned from his position as president of Vision Forum Ministries, and shortly thereafter, Vision Forum Ministries shut downSome commentators have used the scandal as an opportunity reflect on how Christian Patriarchy ideology unfairly silences women, fails to hold men accountable, and creates a world ripe for hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, one commentator seemed more interested in defending Christian Patriarchy ideology than reflecting on what went wrong at Vision Forum Ministries.

In a November 13th commentary at Blog & Mablog, Doug Wilson discussed the closure of Vision Forum Ministries following Doug Phillips’ October 30th resignation. He called the closure “fitting and appropriate”, admitting that “the effects are devastating” when a man like Phillips fail to behave responsibly.

Unfortunately, he devoted much of his column to defending the supposed virtues of patriarchy, in spite of Phillips’ misconduct. Wilson dismissed feminists who criticized patriarchy, accusing them of “screeching”. He lamented that the word “patriarchy” has been tarnished in the eyes of “saps” who have absorbed “feminist indoctrination”.

“Feminists diligently labor to represent any form of father rule as inherently bad, or at least as bad as a relativist can make it out to be — which is pretty bad since the case need not be based on careful reasoning, but rather just screeching. Screeching goes a long way these days.

So, after a generation of saps has gone through the feminist indoctrination that we call the university system, all you have to do is use the word patriarchy in some unapologetic way, and everybody stares at you like you were a six inch cockroach or something.”

Wilson defended patriarchy at length, citing Bible passages that gave husbands authority over wives and fathers authority over children. He called patriarchy “inescapable”, arguing that our only choices are for men to act as responsible patriarchs and receive “blessing”, or to fail at their calling and bring down “humiliation and chastisement” upon themselves.

Throughout the commentary, Wilson refused to admit that male dominance in and of itself was problematic.

He admitted that some “machismo patriarchalists” may have “gravitated to Vision Forum circles, and found what they thought was adequate cover there.” However, he quickly added that “many marriages have been saved as a result of the things learned from Vision Forum”, clinging to his belief that it is abuse of patriarchy, not patriarchy itself, that is the problem.

When a powerful man “with lots of testosterone” takes part in adultery, Wilson sees a sleazy, manipulative Delilah at work.

“A man with lots of testosterone is in a position to start a dynamic ministry that speaks to thousands, that fills conference halls, and that rivets people to their seats. Taking a hypothetical, that very same man is also in a much better position to succumb to the blandishments of a stripper with a stage name of Foxy Bubbles, and all in the settled conviction that his sin will not find him out. How could his sin find him out? He rivets people to their seats.

Samson eventually had his eyes put out, but even before he lost his eyes he was not able to see what Delilah was doing with and to him. The thing that God was using against the Philistines, his strength, was also the thing that Delilah was using in a series of sexual jiu jitsu moves against Samson. It is an old trick, and it still works very, very well.”

Phillips was not a shaved, blinded Samson, but a man who made a conscious choice to engage in infidelity.

What message does this send to the world about the woman Doug Phillips was involved with?

We don’t know who she was or what the nature of her contact with Phillips was. To boot, Phillips was a powerful man in his subculture, and we don’t know what, if any role that power played in his inappropriate relationship. (HA note: We know more as of yesterday.) If his misconduct involved force, threats, or relations with a minor, rhetoric about Delilah and “sexual jiu jitsu” would be victim-blaming.

Let’s get all the facts before assuming that the woman in question was some wily Delilah.

When an institutional crisis strikes, it’s sadly common to see people circle the wagons rather than admit that systemic problems may exist. Any ideology, including Christian Patriarchy ideology, that arbitrarily gives one group vast power over another group will produce injustice and lack of accountability. Patriarchy is intrinsically unjust, and it becomes doubly toxic when propped up by religion. The Phillips scandal demands that we confront patriarchy.

I’m disappointed that Doug Wilson fails to understand this.

The Freedom From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Education: Apollos

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The Freedom From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Education: Apollos

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Apollos” is a pseudonym.

I loved being homeschooled.

Homeschooling gave me freedom. The freedom to explore my interests. The freedom to follow my heart’s passions. The freedom to study the things that I wanted to study.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience that I would never trade for anything.

I was homeschooled all the way through. Starting in kindergarten through highschool graduation. Religion was a factor and I don’t mind that. My parents are Christians, we were in a Christian homeschool co-op, and I am still a Christian. I am not ashamed to say I love Christianity and I love homeschooling.

But what I love about my homeschooling experience was the lack of structure.

It’s not that there was zero structure. I had to learn the basics. Ya know, math, science, history, language arts. But there was no per se “curriculum.” We’d start with some general outline: read this book, or that book. My parents would assign me a book on U.S. history, for example. And when I read something interesting about William Jennings Bryan, I was allowed to focus on Bryan and progressive Christian politics. I wasn’t forced to only study the side of history (or the ideas on that side) that a particular group of people liked.

This freedom really fostered my creativity and my innate desire to explore new ways of thinking.

In a very true, deep way I was not taught what to think, but how to learn.

And again, my family was Christian.

But they didn’t let their ideas about religion get in the way of my education. In fact, their willingness to let me look at ideas they personally disagreed with ultimately led me to see that Christianity doesn’t have to be believed from a fearful, reactionary stance.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed a big push in homeschooling towards “Classical Christian Education.” (I’m just going to call that “CCE” for short.) Which is funny, in itself, because that push comes from Mr. Slavery Apologist himself, Doug Wilson; which, insofar as slavery is truly a classical institution, demonstrates that “classical” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Wilson’s books, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and The Case for Classical Christian Education, have been credited by many people in the CCE movement as being inspirational. Lots of Christian homeschoolers I know are now moving in this direction; Classical Conversations is one such manifestation.

I find this odd. Key to the CCE movement is the radical integration of one particular worldview into all subjects and a reliance on Middle Ages pedagogy. Is everyone forgetting that these are the very things that Protestants did when they created the public school systems in the first place — the systems that us homeschoolers have tried so hard to break free from?

I don’t see much difference between the public school mentality and what CCE homeschoolers are now doing.

They’re both using the same top-down techniques and one-size-fits-all pedagogies which — when I was being homeschooled — were explicitly rejected by the homeschooling movement.

But I digress.

The main thing I wanted to say was how thankful I am that homeschooling, for me, freed me from a one-size-fits-all approach to education. It liberated me from a one-size-fits-all curriculum, too.

That freedom made me an enthusiastic student, as well as strengthened my relationship with Christ.