"Taking Her Myself" A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship/Betrothal

by Vyckie Garrison

Does God Hate Women?” author, Ophelia Benson recently shared a note which was posted on Reddit written by a young patriarch describing his “biblical marriage.”

 As Bible-believing Baptists who hold to reformed theology, X and I believe that God is sovereign in choosing who will or will not believe in him, having chosen his people before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1), and that his selection is unbreakable and irresistible. If marriage is to mirror this principle, we believe that a woman has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man and marriage is to be an unbreakable arrangement between the man and her father. Based on this reasoning, we have shunned a standard proposal and wedding ceremony, because if I had asked her to marry me (which I did not) then I would have given her the decision to marry me rather than selecting her and taking her myself. Furthermore, if we had exchanged conventional marriage vows, our union would have been based on X’s will and consent, which are not Biblical factors for marriage or salvation. Instead, I asked X’s father for his blessing in taking her hand in marriage. When he gave his blessing, X and I considered ourselves to be unbreakably betrothed in the sight of God. While we had initially intended to consummate our marriage after today’s symbolic ceremony, we instead did so secretly after private scripture reading, prayer, and mutual foot-washing.

PZ Meyers commented on Pharyngula, “It made my skin crawl.”  Yeah – mine too.

As Quiverfull Believers dig ever-deeper into their Bibles in search of the truly “biblical model” for godly marriage, ideas about courtship and “betrothal” are becoming increasingly savage and brutish.  It would seem unlikely that Courtship standards could get even more oppressive considering that Christian notions of “biblical match-making” have already been taken to outrageous extremes.

Josh Harris started a back-to-bible-living revolution among Christian young people when he advocated the courtship model in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. What – no dating for teens? Now that’s a radical concept! As “bible believers” jumped on the bandwagon of father-led pairing of qualified young men and women in serious pursuit of marriage, popular Quiverfull patriarchs took biblical courtship to a new level of paternal domination as they pointed to Old Testament examples of “betrothal” as the very best way to ensure the future success of Christian marriage.

Jonathan Lindvall, teaching “God’s Design for Youthful Romance,” cited the betrothal of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman as an ideal example of a “true romantic betrothal.”  Lindvall describes the crazy-making process by which Maranatha’s father, Stan Owen, orchestrated a year-long betrothal which was to be a “demonstration of Christ’s coming for His bride” based on the parable of the Ten Virgins.

Mr. Owen still faithfully directed both Matthew and Maranatha to avoid physical affection until their wedding. He particularly cautioned them to guard against impatience. Especially since Maranatha was rather young, their wedding might be quite a long way off yet. Though they hoped that the time would be soon, they nevertheless resigned themselves to the real possibility that the wedding could be a matter of years down the road, much like Jacob’s seven year betrothal to Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). Yet they were both naturally quite motivated and energetically prepared in every way they could, as quickly as they could, just in case the wedding should suddenly be announced.

Not to be outdone in the “biblical examples of courtship and marriage” department, Michael Pearl counseled his daughter, Shoshanna, to forego a state-issued marriage license:

None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts. The sooner there is such a movement, the sooner we will have a voice in government. Some of you attorneys and statesmen reading this should get together and come up with an approach that will have credibility and help to impact the political process.

Yeah … that’s “bible-believing” extremism for you – and it’s not enough to practice these ideals for themselves and their children, “biblical family values” must become the law of the land.

As a former Quiverfull believer, I used to get excited at the prospect of searching the Word and discovering greater “truths” and biblical principles – the implementation of which would bring my family increasingly closer to a truly God-honoring model of marriage and Christian home life.  At the same time, I secretly dreaded what the Lord might reveal to me next through Lindvall’s Bold Christian Living, Pearl’s No Greater Joy, and other “biblical family living” ministries.  Already I was obediently and faithfully having baby after baby to the obvious detriment of my health, submitting to my abusive husband, homeschooling, homebirthing, home churching, foregoing all government assistance including potentially life-saving health insurance and food stamps, cutting off all outside relationships with family and friends who were not like-minded Quiverfull Believers …. honestly, the regimentation and isolation made for a harsh and demanding life.

“What’s next?” I frequently wondered to myself … ‘cuz my practice of Quiverfull was not “peculiar” enough already, I guess.

I am so grateful that I got out before I had a chance to “discover” the biblical principle of a man selecting and taking a wife for himself.  I am afraid, since the idea comes straight from scripture, I very well may have gone along with my daughters’ father coming to an “unbreakable arrangement” for a “godly” young man to “take them” in marriage.

Ugh.  It is a trap – a life-sucking quagmire – to attempt to order one’s family life according to a worldview which teaches that whatever is in the bible is necessarily “biblical” and normative for all times and all cultures.  I dread the thought that today’s Quiverfull daughters are now being taught that a young Christian woman “has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man” and given no decision in the convenant agreement between her father and the man who will be taking her.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

  • Dawn

    I wonder what would’ve happened to a girl like me? My father died of cancer when I was 13. I had no brothers or sisters as my parents were both diagnosed with cancer by the time I was 5. Would my mother have been the one in charge of my dating life (as she tried to be, but seeing as we weren’t QF, she didn’t have much of a choice)? Would a man have been allowed to come and just take me since there was no other man in authority over me?

    • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

      From my understanding of societies where arranged marriages were/are common if a girl’s father is deceased her paternal uncle or grandfather would take on that role. I REALLY wish such things were relegated to history books as they should be.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    Please, tell me this letter is an Internet hoax.

    “God is sovereign in choosing who will or will not believe in him, having chosen his people before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1), and that his selection is unbreakable and irresistible. If marriage is to mirror this principle, we believe that a woman has no right to select a husband for herself,… if I had asked her to marry me (which I did not) then I would have given her the decision to marry me rather than selecting her and taking her myself. ” – Quoted from the letter I hope is a hoax.

    What clear nonsense! The Calvinist view is not that we have been chosen and therefore will be saved however we act, but that some have been chosen and therefore will respond to Christ’s goodness. This is why the gospel is preached: To give people a chance to respond. God, in that view, will place the elect where they can hear.

    Contrary to this letter, consent is very definitely part of the Biblical view of salvation. We consent to giving our lives to God because He wooed us with His goodness and sacrifice.
    In the Calvinist view, only the elected will want to consent to Christ’s headship. If, then, he sees marriage as a picture of Christ and the church, it means that she has the choice to marry him or not. And her ÿes, I do” response will be evidence of God’s will that the two of them marry.

  • nolongerquivering

    Here is a link to the original note, which was shared on Reddit:

    http://imgur.com/aVn40

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    It is skin-crawly, isn’t it – the two men deciding it all as if the woman were a log.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    I think this has a good chance of being a hoax. It’s posted by an anonymous Internet atheist under a nickname (r/atheism), allegedly cross-posted after another anonymous guy posted it. Except you say r/atheism’s is the original.

    It concerns not the anonymous guy who may or may not have posted it before r/atheism, but the anonymous guy(or gal)’s brother’s anonymous friends.

    If it is true, it’s disgusting and deserves the sharpest condemnation. But the evidence I can see don’t support it.

  • http://www.talkingsquid.net Chris Lawson

    Ophelia: you mean a log that can keep house and provide sex on demand, right?

  • nolongerquivering

    I can understand why it might seem too off-the-wall to be true ~ but so much of the thinking behind QF/P is equally crazy ~ to me, it’s just one more example of fundamentalist bible interpretation.

    A lot (the majority?) of the Quiverfull believers that I knew called themselves “Reformed” and held to this view that God determined who would be saved before He created a single human being ~ those who would be damned, were created for destruction “for His glory.” I can’t remember where the verse is in Isaiah that says so ~ but when I questioned that teaching during a home church meeting, the man in charged read the scripture aloud and when I said, “But that’s just evil!” he responded, “Who are you to judge God, sister?”

    R.C. Sproul Jr. and (I believe) Doug Wilson teach the same thing ~ check out the Highlands Study Center.

  • Kristin

    Incidentally, I’m beginning to wonder if that letter is a hoax too. The end of it says that their ideas are drawn from a book by one Joseph Beard called “Biblical Marriage Principles.” I cannot find evidence of any such book. Do any of you who have been more steeped in QF/P have any recollection of this?

  • Kristin

    Ah, sorry, the title he gives is “Biblical Marriage Concepts.”

  • Kristin

    I mean, I know there are Christian fringe publishers all over the place, but, for example, you can FIND Jonathan Lindvall’s work online. Or Ray Comfort’s or Michael Pearl’s.. I can’t find anything about Joseph Beard. I’ve never heard of him.

  • Ruth

    Kristin,
    Joseph Beard sounds like a name someone invented. I would be relieved to find out the story is a hoax, but I hope that any pastor who reads it or is made aware of it points out that this “Concept” is not Godly, even if we might find some stories in the Bible where men took women given to them by their fathers (Saul gave Michal to David, for example).
    Biblical (as in it appears in the Bible) does not equal Christian.

  • syfr

    It’s a pretty bad sign when a person can’t tell whether or not something is a hoax.

  • Andrew

    If one of these jokers ever ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage without ever having taking her out on a date, after a big fat NO, I think I would ask the police to have the person arrested on a mental health warrent. I am amazed at the insanity that is passing for spirituality these days. I am no spiritual giant myself but I am understanding how the bible can be twisted to support ones views.

  • Pressing On

    Could be a hoax, but it is definitely out there. Two young men gave me that kind of speech when I was in college, trying to convince me into a quick marriage based on their desires alone. That was nearly 30 years ago. They were convinced that God’s plan was for the man to choose, and the women to go, regardless of her desires or what she felt God calling her to do. I was so horrified that they would even suggest such a thing. What would marriage be like to such a man? Thankfully I had the peace of mind to tell them no on no uncertain terms and to stay away from me.

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  • Allie

    I can safely say that NOW I’ve seen everything.

  • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

    My parents chose my husband when I was 14, we married when I was 18. It was a disaster, and 11 years later I divorced my husband and left the church. 18 years later, I am in a healthy relationship with a man I chose, and am Episcopalian. My kids are grown, and happy. And I did not choose their spouses, not did their dad.

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  • http://www.committedchristian.blogspot.com/ Committed Christian

    What a sick application of the doctrine of election! I am utterly horrified. People like that man suggesting that women do not have a choice in the matter is forgetting that even though God is sovereign, people are still commanded to trust in Christ. Not to mention that the Bible is silent concerning the idea that marriage is modeled after the doctrine of election. It seems that that man is just twisting doctrines to suit his own desires.

  • http://www.marriageretreatsinfo.com Joe N Reda

    During retreats marriage, a couple can solve personal common problems and talk about their personal differences and how they can work.

  • http://AmericanBibleSchool.com Bible Education

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