I’ve said before that I grew up in a family influenced by the Christian Patriarchy movement, which teaches male headship and female submission, not only between the husband and wife but also between the father and daughter. In Christian Patriarchy, women must always be under male authority, and this includes not just some sort of nebulous “spiritual headship” but actual obedience and “protection.” The existence of this movement will take many by surprise, but its influence is widespread in the Christian homeschool movement. In fact, this movement can sometimes influence families little by little without them even realizing it. But what is encouraging is that more and more people are realizing what is going on and speaking out about it, not just about their experiences growing up in families influenced by it (like me) but also directly against its teachings and doctrines. This is a very positive step.
Vision Forum, with its Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, is one of the premier supporters of Christian Patriarchy. Its influence can be extremely insidious because it gets its foot in the door through its catalogs filled with attractive pictures, loads of (gendered) toys for kids, and promises a perfect family life. Rethinking Vision Forum is an excellent website seeking to pull together information critical of Vision Forum from across the internet.
Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy ministries are critical to the Christian Patriarchy movement in two ways: First, their books on marriage forward a relationship in which the male is to be the leader and the wife a follower, to the extreme; Second, their influential books on child rearing and discipline endorse an authoritarian style of parenting in which children are literally beaten into submission. Why Not To Train A Child responds directly to the Pearls and is an excellent, extremely helpful resource.
Bill Gothard‘s Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) runs conferences and correspondence programs, attracting a large audience of homeschoolers over the years. Gothard promises a perfect family if you will only follow his methods, and endorses the idea of the “umbrella of authority” in which children must remain safely under their parents’ authority, and wives under their husbands authority. Recovering Grace is a website run by young adults who grew up in IBLP and chronicle the ways in which it damaged their faith, their relationships, and their families.There are other excellent resources as well:
No Longer Quivering is a platform for women who have lived the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull lifestyle.
Under Much Grace addresses the problems of Christian Patriarchy, especially as experienced by women.
Overcoming Botkin Syndrome examines the pitfalls and problems with the teachings of Geoffrey Botkin and his daughters on father/daughter relationships.
Quivering Daughters reaches out to daughters who grew up in the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements.
The Commandments of Men speaks out against Christian Patriarchy in whatever form.
Today, when people google terms like “Bill Gothard” or “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” they now cannot help but find sites and articles critical of Christian Patriarchy. At the very least, this may lead families being pulled in by the movement’s promises and pretty pictures to reconsider or at least think twice. It will also help those who are starting to have doubts about the movement and are looking for help or resources. And to me, this is encouraging.
Note: See my FAQ for info on Quiverfull and its relationship to Christian Patriarchy