The Beautiful Girlhood Doll, part 1: Faith and Fortitude

The spirit of beautiful girlhood is alive in the girl who, with courage and fortitude, perseveres through the many challenges of life. She realizes that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and consequently, strives for the principled course of action.

My parents saw us children as empty slates, and held that we had been given to them as gifts from God. At the same time, they believed that babies were born full of sin and ready to lead destructive, miserable, evil lives if allowed to develop without training. Therefore, my parents believed that it was their duty to shape and mold us into godly men and women, and they took this duty very seriously.

When we were little, my parents, following the teaching of Michael and Debi Pearl, trained us children to obey their simplest commands. My parents said they believed in house proofing the baby, rather than baby proofing the house. This meant that they would intentionally leave enticing objects within reach of a toddler, and then spank his or her hand and say “no” each time he or she reached for it. Similarly, they would call a toddler to come, spank the child if he or she did not come immediately, and then try it again. In this way, we were forced to submit our wills and learn obedience. After all, my parents told us, disobedience was rebellion against God.

My parents also worked hard to instill their faith in us children. We were expected to spend personal time reading the Bible and praying each morning before doing our chores. After chores came breakfast, and after breakfast, Bible time. My mother read the Bible aloud to us and then we discussed the passage and had group prayer. God was included in nearly every one of our homeschool subjects, including history and science. We learned that God had guided the founding fathers as they wrote the Constitution and that science properly understood shows that God created the world in six literal days six thousand years ago. Before bed, my parents gathered all of us together and prayed with us. God was a given, a part of our lives, and Jesus was a personal friend.

My mother used God to teach us to behave. If two of my siblings were bickering, they would be told to imagine that Jesus was standing right there with them. A child who was sulking would be asked, “do you think you are making Jesus happy right now?” If one of my siblings did his chores sloppily, my mother would quote from the Bible: “Do your job cheerfully as unto the Lord.” If one of my siblings needed an “attitude readjustment,” they would be sent to their bed with their Bible and told to read it. Another frequent punishment was copying down a verse from the Bible by hand, fifty or even a hundred times. In this way we were told a million times a day to make sure that our behavior conformed with what God would want.

Once we reached high school, my siblings and I studied apologetics. I loved learning the fine points of doctrine, and I loved thinking about Christian theology. My parents often discussed theology around the supper table, helping us children understand what we believed and why. I frequently checked out books from our church library and read about a variety of subjects. The more I read the more convinced I was that my parents’ beliefs were right. I was devoted to my faith and dedicated to my Savior. Like my parents, I believed wholeheartedly that demons were real, that the rapture was coming, that the world had been created in six days six thousand years ago, and that anyone who had not asked Christ as their savior was destined for hell. This instilled me with a deep sense of mission – I had a purpose and a destiny.

For the next installment of this series, click here.

Beautiful Girlhood Doll Table of Contents

On Indiana
The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
On Orgies, Bisexuality, James Dobson, and Evangelicals
A Matter of Patriarchy
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • M.E.

    These scenarios are all too familiar to my childhoood and indoctrination. My parents were on the extreme radicalist fringe of our Fundamental Baptist Church…they were "all about" the Pearls' books for many years.

  • Anonymous

    Have you ever read The Poisenwood Bible? It's a great book and honestly, some of your story sounds really similar to some of the things within that story.

  • Pam

    The following is shared for you, Libby Anne…I want to thank you for taking your time reading Only by your story can I say it seems like your parents loved you as you described your home as a child as a happy home. Sounds like they wanted to protect you from what I gather…but in a legalistic way….maybe the only way they knew how. I am a Christian..I’m a born again child of God…I stumbled across your story here by some research I’m looking into about “large christian families…why do they have so many kids? is what I’m wondering???? and what “job” does Jim Duggar have in the outside world? I’m a mother of just three. I’m not really all for the huge families (I’m not cut out for it) but if a married couple wants lots…hey have at it. I’m concrete on my faith in Jesus Christ and have no doubt that the Bible is the Word of God. I’m not writing to blast you for your decisions. I DO believe that LEGALISM has turned so many away from Jesus Christ. Turning away from legalistic church is understandable It seems you know all the in’s and outs of “doing” the right things. I do believe that legalism is the backbone of “pride” You know “pride cometh before the fall” PRIDE in ourselves that we can dress, talk, write, look, much better than that ole sinner down the road. Come on how disgusting is that!! The legalistic group is very much into the outward appearances and it makes me sick!! I was in a legalist church for about 10 yearss..met my husband there…but no longer at that church….never grew up in a legalistic church (thank God!). Though my dad was somewhat strict some would say…but my dad had a understanding of raising children not in a sheltered weird way. My mom was not the homeschooling mom, didn’t really sew, never taught me to cook…I played…goofed off, helped out… cause I wanted to help. I loved to go to church. I went to public school (thank God for his protection there) had different upbringing groups of friendships. One friend was catholic, another j.witness, the other baptist that didn’t go to church. We never saw eye to eye on God or religion but we were best of friends….I still keep in touch with two of them. We just knew what we believed was not the same. I believe I had a healthy bringing up. I did have a friend in my younger years who went to a christian school, was forced to take notes in church, had to dress in dresses, really couldn’t do anything. She seemed always unhappy and dreamed a lot of her future…to get out of the house….and come to find out she got away from church and the whole upbringing she had. I believe the difference between her and me at the time was, I was not treated like a robot to think, do and act as my parents. I was in a strict home but still had liberties. One that lives in a communist country is truly not happy as one who lives in a free country. No…freedom is not doing what ever you want…there still has to be limits to keep a country sane…I do believe the Bible teaches us how to live a joyful, full life. Thought 2. Now think …I’ve done things in my life that I know have hurt me…so do I want my children to walk down the same pathway that I chose and know that my children will be hurt too? No! I want to do all that I possibly can to protect my children ….and try to “help” them to understand what awfulness of sin really is. But they still have a will…it’s my God given responsibility to show them the ways of God as best as I can teach them and the consequences 0f our decisions. All three of my children have asked Jesus to come into their hearts…which is the greatest joy for me as a parent I am so excited that in eternity we will be together and they have a friend in Jesus here on earth. Now does that mean my children won’t go astray…no…we each have a decision…will some of their decisions hurt me…I’m pretty sure of it, and am not fooled that they will not live “perfect” lives. It will hurt me cause I know they will hurt and God will be hurt. I “think” you are searching for something…you were not given freedom until college and well …ventured out to find something different than your past. I am not God I don’t know your heart only he does. I do know this…Please Do not turn your back on the Lord. It’s not the do’s and don’ts that he cares about, it’s NOT the way you are dressed, if you homeschool or not (rabbit trai…some moms defiantly don’t need to homeschool….their kids are suffering for it…while other homeschooler s love it and just blow me away at their book knowledge and social skills there is a wide variable there). It’s ….well it’s John 3:16…a verse I’m pretty sure you already know. Thanks for letting me share…don’t turn your back on God for he cares for you :)