The Ideology Of Underage Marriages In Conservative Christianity

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Andrew Malone.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Laura Lawrence’s blog The Rambling Soapbox. It was originally published on September 8, 2015.

A Teen by Definition is Not “Mature”

*Little disclaimer: By “mature” I mean as physically developed and/or experienced in life as adults. I am not referring to responsibility, which many teens are better at than some adults. 

I was just 16 but I knew it was love, and my boyfriend, also 16, and I secretly but seriously discussed our future. It was my 18th birthday when my new boyfriend and Sr. year highschool sweetheart proposed to me at our favorite park. I was 18 still when we married and my 19th birthday came one week later. My husband was barely 20.

Over the past 13 years of marriage, we have occasionally reflected on the past. On this issue, we both have come to the conclusion that marrying so young is not something we would now recommend to others. We were in love, but we were not prepared. We were not prepared financially, reproductive-wise, and he was not prepared mentally. Until my new husband kindly walked me through the steps, I had never paid a bill before. I didn’t know how to cook beyond pasta salad and boxed mac and cheese. We had no long-term plans, no goals other than my determination to get my Bachelor’s (it took 7 years, but I finally did).

We were strongly encouraged to marry fast in order to avoid living or falling into sin (sex), and we happily and naively agreed for the sake of our spiritual health and physical desires. It never occurred to our superiors/supporters that if we couldn’t be mature and responsible sexually before marriage, we weren’t mature enough for marriage. Our best friends and family were devastated and deeply concerned. They thought we were being way too hasty.

We struggled much for the first few years, forced to grow up very quickly and alone, for our friends were still in college when we began having babies. Not knowing how to budget, how to pay bills, or how to plan for long-term savings, and neither of us having a college degree, we suffered financially. Some decisions we made so long ago still haunt us today. We were encouraged not to take birth control since they were “full of toxins” and “not natural”, but to try the spit and microscope method of birth control instead. Wouldn’t you know it? Within 7 months I was pregnant.


Underage Marriage in the United States?

I was skeptical when a spiritual abuse blog I follow, posted an article on their FB page about child marriages in certain fundamental, homeschool, patriarchal, Christian circles. I knew it happened in many developing countries. I knew about the practice in fundamental Mormon (FLDS) churches out West. I knew it was a growing issue in the US due to the influx of immigrant cultures, but surely this article was grossly exaggerating the occurrence of underage marriages in these Protestant Christian groups. The article only highlighted two instances of child marriage, and both happened in the same family with a mother (married at 15) and her daughter (married at 16).

I asked for more information, and the moderator of the Spiritual Sounding Board Facebook page generously provided me with 3 more articles. While none of them could make a convincing case for the actual practice of child marriages, the positive mindset among several general commenters, the remarks of Kevin Swanson and Dave Bruehner (two big names in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement), and even Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame, began to show a disturbing trend.

There is a legal, and for some, ethical, difference between underage child marriages which occur between 12-17 (more typically, 15-17) years of age, and young or early marriage, which happens between 18-22 years of age, generally speaking. While the latter has been increasingly pushed by some in Evangelical circles to prevent or reduce sin, when the former does occur or is promoted, many times it is for very similar reasons.


Early/Young Marriage, 18-22

Today there is “a sort of attitude … magical thinking, that if we get you married, then you’ll be fine and we don’t have to worry about anti-poverty programs… we don’t have to worry about child care.” Scholars, pundits and other policy elites need to end their magical thinking about marriage and acknowledge the widespread nature of marital poverty and economic hardship. Married Without Means, p. 3

Statistics have told those with “ears to hear” for years that the rate of divorce decreases, the older a couple is when married. Couples between the ages of 18-24 (or younger) have the highest rates of divorce among married couples. This age group of married couples also tend to suffer significantly lower incomes, many times at or even below poverty level. Poverty’s fallout among young people and society includes poor education, single parenting (related both to the high divorce rate and young, unmarried mothers), severe stress, poor mental and physical health, drug abuse, child abuse, abortion, and the ignominious welfare state-all issues that conservative Christians are deeply worried about.

Still, there are many examples of conservative celebrity Christians, politicians, and leaders who strongly promote the idea of early marriage as a panacea for society’s ills. The often-cited op-ed article from Christianity Today called, The Case for Early Marriage (July 2009), by Mark Regnerus—a sociologist with much to say on the topic of young marriages in the church (see also Regnerus’s similar article titled, Freedom to Marry Young, April 2009, from the Washington Post)—seems to be mostly concerned with abstinence (rather a lack thereof), baby-making, the “decreasing market value of women” as they age, and economics; it is cheaper to live together with someone, pooling resources, than living alone, he insists. Continuing in the CT article, Regnerus appears to idolize marriage as a “formative institution” and elevates it to the status of duty, meanwhile stigmatizing singles (especially women) as if they are forced to settle into their singleness. Regnerus is a real romantic.

The Duggar Family’s long-running reality TV show has garnered them much influence. The Duggars, of “19 Kids and Counting” fame, do not self-identify as a Quiverfull family, but they do maintain similar strict beliefs concerning children, homeschooling, marriage, modesty, patriarchy, and courtship. “Jim Bob and Michelle were married on July 21, 1984, just after Michelle’s high school graduation. She was 17 and he was 19 when they married; neither went to college, according to “19_Kids_and_Counting.

It would seem that oldest son Josh Duggar and his wife, Anna, were married when they were both 20. Anna says on their webpage, she first saw Josh via the TV show when they were both 13. They met at a homeschooling conference in 2006, when they would have both been 18. After a carefully cultivated courtship, they were married in 2008 and now have 4 children.

Josh was recently found to have cheated on his wife with a sex worker (at least once), engaging in rough, unprotected sex and potentially exposing both his wife and unborn child to venereal disease. Of Josh’s two married sisters, one was married at 20, the other waited until the ripe old age of 24. Both young women became pregnant immediately, none of the Duggars have gone to or have been encouraged to attend college. Although the Duggars’ lifestyle has worked for them financially because of their celebrity status, the average couple who marries early becomes just another statistic.


Child Marriage: A Rose by Any Other Name

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-10

Rather than at least remaining neutral on the subject or better yet, speaking up for voiceless girls and young women like the Bible adjures Christians to do, certain teachers, preachers, and celebrities like Swanson, Bruehner, Robertson, the Duggar family, and others, actively encourage early marriage, even child marriage, although most Evangelicals draw the line at age 18-20 (*Disclaimer: I do not know that the Duggars advocate for child marriage, but the others in this list have, as has already been discussed in this article).

“At a Sportsmen’s Ministry talk in 2009, [Phil] Robertson had some advice for a young man. “Make sure that she can cook a meal, you need to eat some meals that she cooks, check that out,” he said. “Make sure she carries her Bible. That’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now, that’s a woman.” 

“They got to where they’re getting hard to find,” Robertson remarked. “Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ’em. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.” The Duck Commander company founder added: “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that of course.” “ 

And Robertson practices what he preaches. He began dating his wife, Kay, when she was only 14 and he was 18. They waited until Kay was 16 to get married. See “Duck Dynasty Star: Girls Should Carry a Bible Cook and Marry When They are 15″ from Raw Story.

In a radio broadcast defending Phil Robertson’s comments above, former Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado, and current head of Generations with Vision, Kevin Swanson stated: “Remember that one concern people had over Duck Dynasty, when the guy came out and said the girls, 15 or 16 years of age, she’s able to get married, they got all mad. Because boy, you get a girl married at 15 or 16 years of age, that’s a sin! Dave Bruehner: Well it is because she doesn’t have a whole life of fornication ahead of her anymore. Later on, the men remarked, “I mean, think about what the president of the Girl Scouts would say about this, Dave, if we said, “Hey, these 15 year old girls, 16 year old girls, they may be ready to get married. They don’t have to live these, you know, independent lifestyles.””

The story of Matthew Chapman is famous/infamous depending on your perspective. He is well-known in conservative homeschooling groups for courting a young teen named Maranatha while she was 13 and he 25, eventually marrying her with her father’s permission and approval when she was 15 and Matthew was 27.

It seems that Matthew Chapman is going to be a keynote speaker at Christian Home Educators of Ohio’s annual homeschool convention this summer. This is a major convention…In addition to Matthew serving as keynote speaker, his wife Maranatha is slated as a featured speaker. Matthew runs Kindling Publications, and both Maranatha and Lauren is featured heavily on organization’s website. See “Matthew Chapman and Why I Included Lauren’s Picture” by Love, Joy, Feminism.

Attorneys claim Phillips, a close friend to the Duggar family and an associate of actor Kirk Cameron, “methodically groomed” Lourdes Torres since she was 15 years old and led her to believe they would be married. Phillips told the girl this was possible because his wife, Beall Phillips, “was going to die soon.” See “Lawsuit Reveals Teen was Groomed as Personal Sex Slave in the Duggar Family’s Movement” via Raw Story.

Child marriages heralded by the above-mentioned men, seem genuinely logical in their anachronistic culture which sometimes encompasses such names as Quiverfull, Patriarchy, and Evangelical Homeschool Movement (*there is much overlap here; not all families that adhere to these labels believe all the same things, perhaps especially on the issue of underage marriages). These movements, along with some Fundamental Evangelical Christians and churches, strive to bring back a romanticized 1950s, in some cases 1850s, believing those times to be Christianity’s heyday in America. Interestingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, those eras in history saw higher rates of underage marriages and sexual abuse, wife submission, and patriarchy-centered households -all hallmarks of the above-mentioned movements. It wasn’t until women’s groups moved strongly to shed light on the issues and promote change, that child marriage began to become a thing of the past.

While many might consider child marriages to be a form of pedophilia, medically and legally speaking, pedophilia is limited to sexual attraction to prepubescent children and child molestation is limited to the sexual touching of children 14 and younger. Sexual abuse, then is the term to be used concerning the topic of child marriages.

UNICEF has stated that child marriage “represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls”.[5] The effects of child sexual abuse can include depression,[6] post-traumatic stress disorder,[7] anxiety,[8] complex post-traumatic stress disorder,[9] propensity to further victimization in adulthood,[10] and physical injury to the child, among other problems.[11]  From “End Child Marriage PDF-UNICEF, p. 8.”

The main debate points against pedophilia concern:

  • The lack of true consent on the part of the child
  • The manipulation and power plays on the part of adult authority figures/taking advantage of a child’s innocence, naivete, and inability to say “no”
  • The safety and health of a child which includes the possibility of pregnancy, STDs, and/or physical damage
  • Using a child for the gratification of an adult

While the legal definitions exclude underage, child marriages from being classified as pedophilia or child molestation, there are still strong similarities because of the unique, fundamental culture of the groups that propose it:

  • The young girls in such families are not able to give their own consent, because the consent is settled between the father-patriarch and the bridegroom.
  • There are significant power plays on the part of older adults as they take advantage of such a sheltered girl’s innocence, naivete, and inability to say “no”.
  • The safety and health of the young lady is not taken into consideration, since medicine has shown how dangerous pregnancy can be for teens and their babies, yet in many of these families, contraception is considered a terrible sin against God. As was seen in the Josh Duggar-Ashley Madison case (see link above), these innocent teen girls may still be at risk of STDs as well.
  • Finally, these young marriages are pushed or arranged purely for the gratification of the adults involved and not the benefit of the girl.

Conclusion

  • Young/Early marriages occur between at least one party who is between 18-24 years old. In most cases, the couple are peers in age.
  • Young/Early marriages are often encouraged among traditionally-minded churches and religious groups as a way to reduce sexual sin and single parenthood.
  • Young/Early marriages and child marriages have the highest rates of divorce among married couples. Many times, young couples are uneducated, leading to poverty, which in turn leads to a variety of personal, familial, and social problems.
  • Child marriages are marriages that occur between at least one party who is between 12-17 years old. In many cases, the minor is a female and the bridegroom is in his mid-20s or older.
  • Child marriages are happening in the United States due to the culture of immigrants coming in and religious fundamental cults throughout the states.
  • Child marriages are a form of sexual abuse, no matter how prettily packaged they may seem.

References and Research:

Orthodox Pedophile: I Married My Child Victim So There was No Sexual Abuse

Early Marriage Survives in the USChicago Tribune

DayoftheGirl.org

Child Marriage in the United States and its Association with Mental Health in WomenPediatrics Journal

Child Marriage and Christian FundamentalistsRepublic of Gilead Blog

On Child Marriage: Kevin Swanson and Dave Bruehner Defend Phil Robertson—Homeschoolers Anonymous

Red Sex, Blue SexThe New Yorker

Wait for Sex and Marriage? Evangelicals Convicted

Unsatisfied With Pushing Abstinence Alone, Evangelicals Begin Pushing Early Marriages As WellJezebel

Teenage Brides and Titus 2 Women of the Homeschool ApostatesBecoming Worldly

Robert Van Handel: A Disturbing Look into the Mind of a Pedophile Priest

How the Cage Crushed Me: Eleanor Skelton’s Story

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5

Eleanor Skelton blogs at eleanorskelton.com, is the news editor of the UCCS student newspaper, and is majoring in English and Chemistry.

I don’t have a courtship story.

But I believed in courtship. I desired that lifestyle, wanted​ my dad’s approval of​ the man who ​asked for me.

I loved the cultural symbolism in Jewish bethrothal ceremonies​ as a teenager​​, and I’m still sentimental about Fiddler on the Roof. I never got as far as the Maranatha story​ and child marriages, ​but it was part of my dream.

But it was the dream of one in a cage. 

While living at home going to college, as a disillusioned 20 year old, I wrote this journal entry:

6/1/2010

Feeling better to some extent. [the last entry, I’d had suicidal thoughts.]

Yesterday, a thought hit me that I really can’t shake. It makes me so sad. 

I realized that if I ever married, no husband would really like having Dad as an in-law. Which sort of means I shouldn’t get married. (Since in-laws are a major cause of divorce.) 

I had sort of wondered if I would ever marry because I don’t know if I could ever trust someone so deeply (since I have been hurt so many times by different people). 

But…that means no children. Ever. 

None of my own at the very least. Probably none at all. And that hurts so much inside. It makes me cry so hard. I didn’t realize how much I wanted children one day until I realized I probably can’t. 

I can’t know a ‘normal’ life of motherhood / womanhood. Probably I’ll never know what it’s like to be cherished, loved, thought beautiful (by a man).

I mean, I haven’t met any guys I really like at school, and those I do like I couldn’t really love in that way. But still, I had sort of been hoping in the back of my mind, though I hadn’t been ‘looking’ or flirting at all. But maybe this is why God hadn’t ever brought anyone across my path anyway. 

Maybe I’m not meant for it – though a part of me desired it deeper than I ever knew. 

My friends are growing up and thinking of marriage and getting to know some young men – not me. I have my nose in schoolbooks (though I really enjoy school)…still…

It’s not that I don’t want to rest in Jesus’ love for me – which is perfect love – it’s just that I had expected certain things would happen to me. 

And now the wisdom of ever getting married doesn’t look good. I know I shouldn’t give up hope. God can change anyone’s heart and anyone’s situation, but facing the prospect of never having children and growing old alone someday is difficult. 

And yet getting married really isn’t a requirement for being fully human (I read something about this in my Bible study notes). Jesus went through his whole life without being physically married – he was celibate. 

So I know I wouldn’t be alone in that…it’s just hard to face all of a sudden like this.

Eleanor

Nearly five years later, it still hurts to revisit how the ​cage crushed me. 

How these doctrines set up an unattainable ideal in adolescence that I later realized would never work in my family. So I tried to kill my desire for companionship, made myself ineligible. ​

I still want to be a mother. Now I think​ of being a foster mom if I never “find someone.” Now I know how many iridescent possibilities the world holds.

I can appreciate the significance of Jewish tradition without letting courtship and purity culture hijack it, without being obligated to follow it.

Courtship and purity culture were never mandatory, and they didn’t make me better than anyone else.

They were just another part of the fundamentalist box that I left.

Malala and Me

Malala Yousafzai. CC image courtesy of Southbank Centre.
Malala Yousafzai. CC image courtesy of Southbank Centre.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published in October 2014.

I sat here crying as I watched Malala Yousafzai talk about wanting to get an education and follow her dreams. She talks about how she decided to speak up against the Taliban because she didn’t want to be locked away in her house with no education, forced to marry at 13 or 14, and I can’t help but cry because it hits too close to home.

I know what it feels like to fight for an education in a culture that thinks girls shouldn’t get one. That believes girls should be married off young with no skills and little education beyond primary school. I know what it feels like to want more and to feel the weight of everyone around you writing off your dreams as a silly fantasy.

No, I didn’t have the Taliban forcing me home, and like Malala, my parents made sure that I had an education and encouraged me to follow my dreams. Who sent me to college, and who didn’t think that I had to marry off young and become the property of my husband.

I was lucky though.

There are so many girls stuck in the conservative Christian homeschool culture who aren’t so lucky. The stay-at-home daughter movement popularized by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum teaches that the proper place for a daughter is at home under her father’s authority until she’s given to the husband that her father has selected for her. Stay-at-home daughters are often given limited education, and dreaming of a life away from her father or husband, an education and a career, is unthinkable.

I remember going to hear popular homeschool speaker Little Bear Wheeler speak when I was in middle school, hearing from him that girls should be left as malleable clay to be shaped by their husband to best suit him as a helper. Her talents and interests don’t matter, only what her father and husband want from her.

For girls like Maranatha Chapman, long touted with her husband Matthew, as a fairy tale example of courtship and betrothal, that meant being married off as a 15 year old child to a 28 year old man. Matthew and Maranatha’s daughter Lauren was married off to a 26 year old man at 16, and I have to wonder whether it would have been sooner if Texas hadn’t raised the legal marriage age from 14 to 16.

I knew girls who started hope chests at 13 or 14 because they fully expected to be engaged or married by the time they were 17. Education? That would depend on whether their husbands decided to let them pursue it.

I’ll never forget the day that I overheard moms at homeschool skate talking about how their daughters didn’t need to learn algebra because, “they’re only going to be wives and mothers.”

Do you have any idea how hard you have to fight to hold on to a dream in that world?

I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was fourteen years old. I can’t count how many people I told that dream to who completely discounted it. How can I be a lawyer when I’m supposed to get married young and be a wife and homeschool mom to my dozen kids? No, that’s a suitable goal for your brother who has no interest in law, but not for you, you’re a girl, you need to stay home and work on your homemaking skills so you can have a parent arranged courtship.

No, I didn’t have a gun pointed at my head for daring to dream, but when Malala talks about facing a future as an uneducated child bride and rejecting that future, I understand.

It’s not just in places like Swat Valley in Pakistan where girls are being denied an education. It’s happening in America too, sometimes we give them reality shows on TLC and People Magazine covers.

I’m often asked why I keep fighting for homeschool children, why I care about this when there are so many other problems in the world.

I fight because every child, whether in Swat Valley in Pakistan or in the heartland of America, deserves an education. There’s a reason why Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for speaking out, it’s because educated girls and women are a threat to the status quo. If they weren’t, no one would be trying so hard to keep them uneducated and locked away at home.

I hope that somehow Malala Yousafzai’s words find their way through to all of the stay-at-home daughters. They deserve a chance to dream.

Matthew and Maranatha Chapman Withdraw from 2014 CHEO Convention

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

As of yesterday, Matthew and Maranatha Chapman are no longer presenting at Christian Home Educators of Ohio’s (CHEO) annual homeschool convention this summer. 

The Chapmans have recently provoked controversy due to increased attention to their advocacy of marrying homeschool girls in their “middle-teens” to older men.
The Chapmans have recently provoked controversy due to increased attention to their advocacy of marrying homeschool girls in their “middle-teens” to older men.

Matthew Chapman was a keynote speakers and his wife Maranatha was slated as a featured speaker. The Chapmans have recently provoked controversy due to increased attention to their advocacy of marrying homeschool girls in their “middle-teens” to older men.

The following statement appeared on CHEO’s convention page as of December 16, 2013 (PDF version):

The CHEO board regrets to inform Ohio homeschoolers that Matthew and Maranatha Chapman have notified us that they will not be attending the upcoming CHEO convention in 2014 as previously planned. The Chapmans deeply desire that all those attending the convention would be built up and encouraged in the Lord, and expressed that they will miss seeing the many friends and acquaintances they made from when they were here several years ago. CHEO appreciates their humble service in ministry and wish for them the best.

CHEO has not specified the reasons for the Chapmans’ change of plans, nor have they made any public comment or statement on the Chapmans’ advocacy of child marriage or whether this advocacy was the reason for withdrawal.

Matthew Chapman to Headline the 2014 CHEO Convention

Source: Kindling Publications
Source: Kindling Publications

HA note: The following is reprinted in a modified format with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on December 3, 2013 with the title, “Matthew Chapman, and Why I Included Lauren’s Picture.”

Matthew Chapman wrote the following in 2003, five years before he gave his daughter Lauren away in marriage. In it he referred to his marriage at age 27 to Lauren’s mother Maranatha, who was only 15 at her wedding:

I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?!

…I had no idea how common this sort of thing was, because no one in my homeschool community had married before age 18, and I still don’t know how common it is—but it’s clearly more common than I had hoped. What really bothers me here is the age difference bit. If these parents were marrying their 16-year-old daughters off to other families’ 17-year-old sons I would still be concerned, but when they’re marrying their 16-year-old daughters off to full grown men significantly older in both years and experience, I am appalled—and not in small part because of quotes like Matthew Chapman’s.

I also learned is that Matthew Chapman is going to be a keynote speaker at Christian Home Educators of Ohio’s annual homeschool convention this summer.

This is a major convention, and this past summer the now-discredited Doug Phillips was a keynote speaker. Voddie Baucham spoke there in 2012, as did Eric Ludy. In addition to Matthew serving as keynote speaker, his wife Maranatha is slated as a featured speaker. Matthew runs Kindling Publications, and both Maranatha and Lauren is featured heavily on organization’s website.

Like it or not, it appears that the mainstream of the Christian homeschooling movement, its major convention circuit, has chosen to give a platform to those who practice and promote the marriage of girls of 15 and 16 to much-older men. Here is something else Matthew Chapman wrote in 2003:

Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.

This is the man who is now being given the keynote slot at major Christian homeschooling conventions.

People need to know this.

Matthew Chapman promotes the marriage of homeschool girls in their “middle-teens” to older men, endorsing an age difference, “even a significant one,” as making “for a better fit.” Matthew Chapman not only followed this advice in his own marriage, but also in marrying his daughter Lauren off immediately after her sixteenth birthday to a man of twenty-six.

What does this say of the Christian homeschooling movement?

…Where are the voices speaking out against this? Where are the Christian homeschooling leaders saying that this is wrong?

I’m searching for them, but I’m finding only crickets—crickets, and Matthew Chapman serving as keynote speaker at major Christian homeschooling conventions.