My Parents’ Belief System

by Sarah Henderson cross posted from her blog Feminist in Spite of Them

Please join me in welcoming Sarah Henderson to No Longer Quivering and to NLQs Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network!

These are my parents’ beliefs, as I was taught as a child.

My parents believed in the bible. They believed it was the divine word of god, and that it was infallible. They believed that bible verses should be taken literally.

They believed in six days of creation and that god created Eve for Adam. They believed that Eve caused the Fall. They believed in the flood and that god chose one special family to be saved, because that family followed god more closely than other people and this exposed the other people as the wicked beings they were.

They embraced the stories of Abraham and Isaac – he was willing to stab his son, Jephthah and his daughter – he sacrificed her to thank god for a battle victory, and the Deuteronomy instructions for the procedure to stone your rebellious children, which demonstrate the power a parent has over the lives of their children.

They took a literal lesson from Leviticus 27, which values adult men at 50 shekels of silver, but women at 30 shekels. Boys are worth 5, and girls 3. They believed in the added value of not only a son, but a first born son, and spent a great deal of effort on building up my older brother’s pride in being the first born, which led to a bit of a disappointment when he learned that not only was he getting a double inheritance of nothing, my father had a secret illegitimate son from a previous relationship.

They believed in a literal virgin birth and that Jesus did not defile his body by being with a woman while on earth. They believed in the apostle Paul’s headship, in which men, through some unidentified divine right, inherently are placed above woman. They believed that men were the infallible leaders of the home, and the woman’s place was under his leadership, in the home.

They believed that there is a heaven and hell, and that the people who followed god in the right way (their way) went to heaven, and all others went to hell.

My parents taught us to believe that if we had wrong thoughts about out parents, god would send ravens to peck out our eyeballs.

They taught us that women wearing pants were in direct violation of god’s will, and that such a woman was inviting men to have her. They also taught that woman are responsible for not defrauding men, which means making sure that nothing about a girl or woman reminds men of her gender in a sexual way. They taught that the resulting thoughts were sinful, and that if a man took action, it was because he was betrayed by the woman.

They taught us to believe in miracles, and that if we didn’t get something we asked god for, that it was because we did not have enough faith.

They taught us that their way of seeing the world was the only way, and that if experienced doubt or teenaged rebellion, we would go straight to hell. They taught us that the father was god’s representative on earth, and he could speak for god on practical day to day matters.

They taught us that we lived each day through the grace of god, and that because they were god’s representatives on earth, we really lived to see each day through their kindness.

They taught us that our desires for nice things was a sinful act against them and god. They taught us that sharing ‘family business’ was a sin against god, because god designed the family unit and we would be betraying god’s plan. This was especially drilled when we went to court when I was ten, and I lied under a child’s oath in court because that was god’s will.

They believed that idle hands were the devil’s tools, and that women are to grow up to serve their own husbands some day, and that therefore a daughter should not spend time in imaginative play or leisure, but should be learning something new or taking on new responsibility of her own volition, to ensure she wasn’t circumventing god’s will and stealing potential service from her future husband.

They believed that if they spared the rod and did not spank for each infraction, that they were risking the child’s soul and turning them over to a rebellious spirit. They also believed that expressions of love were important, so after spanking they ensured that the child stopped crying, hugged the parent and expressed love, and ideally thanked the parent for the correction.

They believed that because so many people held different beliefs from them, it was too risky for the children’s souls to allow too much contact outside the family, and it was better for us to only spend time within our own family as much as possible.

They believed in the concept of courtship – the one where parents choose a partner for their children, not the Deuteronomy 21 version where you pillage a neighbouring town and take a woman back and keep her until its no longer satisfying- and started looking for a husband for their daughters once they turned about 12.

They believed that it was improper for my father to work in an environment where he reported to a woman in any way, and that when he chose to be unemployed for this reason, that god would provide. When god didn’t provide, they believed that the family had the material goods that god intended, and we were to learn humility and gratitude.

They believed that parents were infallible in all matters, and that children would continue to submit to the parents for life. They believed that being faithful in imparting these beliefs to their children would result in the children embracing these beliefs and carrying them into the next generation – they were mistaken.

Comments open below

Sarah lives in Ontario Canada with her husband and works in the social work field. She was raised in a large independent quiverfull family, who traveled from church to church looking for sympathy for their belief system. She left at age 17 to complete high school and university on her own. She blogs at http://feministinspiteofthem.blogspot.ca/.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • herewegokids

    Just wow. We taught our children some of those things as well. Until I experienced a major slap upside the head moment and began questioning everything. Still a believer, but no longer a fundamentalist. Whatever my kids choose to believe, I hope they will practice love above ideology.

  • texcee

    I was raised much the same way, although not quite that stringently. My dad was the head of the household but Mom was his enforcer. She saw to it that my brother and I were in church every time the doors were open and participated in every church-related activity available. We were forbidden to have any games that contained dice or cards because that was gambling. We were forbidden to attend parties or leisure activities such as roller skating because that’s where the “bad” kids hung out and we would be corrupted. We were forbidden to dance because it led to “bad” thoughts and thus being “nasty”. We were forbidden any expletive stronger than “wow” because “golly” and “gosh” was too close to “god” and was taking the Lord’s name in vain. No one in our family smoked, drank or cursed. Of course, any transgression was punished with a belt. Parents were to be obeyed without question and it brought outrage and condemnation if we didn’t. I especially was taught that I was “bad” because I had a rebellious streak. She didn’t approve of anything I did and she didn’t approve of my husband or how we raised our daughter. She was still trying to make me be who she wanted me to be when she died at 92. I have often wondered why she was so afraid of everything in the world around her and why she subjected us to such emotional abuse throughout our lives.

  • Theo Darling

    I still feel compelled to ask my closest friends and my partner in moments of fear, “Am I bad?” I’m 25. Always glad to see more people stepping up to speak out against this crap.

  • Saraquill

    That sounds like a very stifling way of life. Ugh.

    Congratulations on no longer being there.

  • Sarah Henderson

    I also struggle to not ask my husband if I’m being a bad wife, or apologize for being a bad person when I can’t do everything. It’s a difficult fear to conquer, I think I’m getting there. I’ve been free for 8 years.


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