Quoting Quiverfull: Two Hours?

by Vaughn Ohlman from the blog True Love Doesn’t Wait – Two Hours

My interlocutors on ‘Quoting Quiverful’ have been having a field day with Joshua and Laura’s betrothal. Mostly at my expense. I think they feel more sorry than anything for the young couple. Funny how Joshua and Laura don’t feel sorry for themselves.
But, that aside, there is something they don’t understand (OK, there’s a lot of things they don’t understand, but one can only focus on one thing at a time) and I thought I would address it.

Enough of the betrothal story got out so that her readers understand that Joshua and Laura met two hours before the betrothal. But somehow they got the impression that the two were given this as some sort of time limit, during which they were supposed to figure out if they wanted to be betrothed. This idea is false in several ways, and I thought I would set the record straight.

First of all, we didn’t set the two hours as some sort of time limit. If it had been up to the young couple the two would have been betrothed two minutes, not two hours, later. And certainly not two days or two weeks or whatever the QQ readers think they wanted.

But, secondly, this wasn’t a time where they were checking each other out. First of all, because they were shyly avoiding each other. But, secondly, that wasn’t the point of the time. It was just a logistics time while Andrew and I figured out how we would arrange things, what we would say, etc.

Since [Abraham’s servant does not object that Isaac might reject the wife he would be bringing], we may conjecture that [the servant] was so fully persuaded of [Isaac’s] integrity as to have no doubt of his acquiescence in his father’s will.

-John Calvin

Joshua and Laura had, years before, already ‘decided’. Or, rather, they had left the decision up to us, to their fathers. Together with the various counselors we sought we did all of the ‘checking out’ while our children waited, anxiously and eagerly, for us to find someone. While I’m sure they had their anxieties, from what they tell me neither one were particularly worried that we would pick a ‘bad’ spouse for them… they were just worried it was taking so long!

So the point of the story wasn’t that ‘Joshua and Laura got betrothed after only knowing each other for two hours’; it was ‘Joshua and Laura trusted, indeed desired, their fathers to find spouses for them.’. Neither Joshua nor Laura wanted to spend time ‘checking out’ potential spouses. They only wanted to ‘check out’ their real spouse.
Which, for the curious, is what they have been doing ever since. They have been on the phone almost incessantly, constantly Skyping, texting, and the like. They are counting the days, impatiently, to their wedding day.

And Isaac brought her into his mother’s … tent — thus establishing her at once in the rights and honors of a wife before he had seen her features. Disappointments often take place, but when Isaac saw his wife, “he loved her.” JFB

Mind you it wasn’t exactly our plan, or our desire, that we betroth our children to someone who they, or we, had never met. That was just how it happened. We both would have been perfectly good betrothing them to someone we, and they, had known their whole lives. The point of the betrothal process was that they would be able to treat each other as brothers and sisters, all unknowing, until the day when they were bound in covenant. They would never be entreated to ‘check out’ people in the church and form quasi-covenant relationships.

I ‘checked out’ a book by a courtship advocate the other day and he talked about how the dads needed to get more involved in courtship so that the church will have fewer ‘mini-divorces’. I guess it never occurred to him (or, if it did, he didn’t know what to do about it) that in order to have ‘mini-divorces’ one must be running around making ‘mini-marriages’.

So our point, Joshua and Laura’s point, was that they never wanted a ‘mini-marriage’. That they wanted a full blown covenant marriage. Bill Clinton was famous for saying that he did not ‘have sex’ with Monica Lewinsky. We all know the deception he was trying to pull. There is a definition for ‘full blown’ sex, and they didn’t go ‘that far’. In my generation we expressed the same thing with baseball analogies: first base, second base, third base, home base. Our point is that we only want our children playing one game, with one person. That they shouldn’t even be on the field unless it is the right field.

Comments open below


QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

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
  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    “So the point of the story wasn’t that ‘Joshua and Laura got betrothed after only knowing each other for two hours’; it was ‘Joshua and Laura trusted, indeed desired, their fathers to find spouses for them.’ ” -V.O.

    The point of the story is indeed that they trusted their fathers. But if they really knew all their options, if they could objectively measure their parents’ words against all the other advice available, it is very unlikely that, out of the whole world, Vaughn Ohlman would be the person they trusted. Vaughn certainly has a lot of blind spots, and:

    “Pro 11:14 …in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” It is a pity she had to trust two like-minded sources, one which we know has certain significant blind spots and the other who possibly agrees with him, instead of looking for the wise counsel from many people who are really happily married.

  • Nightshade

    So there’s not even a pretense that the parents wanted their offspring to get to know each other…does this make anyone else think of livestock owners selecting animals for breeding, or is it just me?

  • pibaba

    I don’t think anyone had the idea that there was a two-hour LIMIT.

    I think the breakdown between ‘us/me’ and ‘them’ (I hate those dichotomies, but they seem to apply here) is that there is no connection between my worldview and Vaughn’s betrothal model. None. That’s where a conversation with him/them would be fascinating, but I feel, sadly, unprofitable.

    (Also, Vaughn at times seems a bit incredulous that this is getting any attention.

    When we were homeschooling/not dating/doing things differently than ‘the world’/dressing modestly,etc, my mom always said that if you’re living ‘set apart’ from the world, expect questions, stares and misunderstandings. It’s what you sign up for. So this scrutiny and question-asking and disbelief when people encounter his idea of betrothal is……normal. and to be expected. it’s what he signed up for.)

  • pibaba

    the more i read, I think he DOES want what’s best for the kids— it’s just (imo) screwed way up.

    But… yeah. all this seems like breeding. ick. like one’s whole purpose in life is sex and children (both great– but not my single purpose in life.)

    but again…..worldview difference that is incompatible with mine on every level.

  • teaisbetterthanthis

    And this just reinforces that Joshua and Laura really didn’t have much involvement in such a huge, influential decision that primarily affects THEM. Not their fathers, who are negotiating this business deal, but THEM — Joshua and Laura.

  • Nightshade

    I think he actually does, but his idea of what is best is total control, no room for error, no giving the young ‘uns the opportunity to learn for themselves, they just have to accept what they’re given/told. Seems to me that deep down the motivation may be fear…if he or they screw up in any way the result will be eternal damnation, not only for themselves but for generations to come, and that fear is what compels him to make all important choices for his offspring. Or maybe I’m wrong, I can’t read Mr. Ohlman’s mind, and I’m not sure I’d want to if I could.

    And yes, children-and sex-are great, but not all there is in life, I agree completely with you there!

  • pibaba

    you summed it up perfectly— all the reasons you mentioned are precisely why i used to be enthusiastic about courtship, etc. It’s essentially marketed as a guarantee for a perfect result, with no screw-ups.

    A key part of your comment is the ‘fear’ element— people who generally promote this idea say they want wants best for their kids (and they often do), but they’re motivated just as strongly out of fear. And that often leads to over-sheltering and stunted personal growth.

    haha, i’d love to read his mind! as long as I didn’t have to live with it ;)

  • Madame

    I agree, Nightshade. And that fear means HE doesn’t trust THEM to choose for themselves.

    I think young adults should be making that kind of choices for themselves. If they can’t, then they aren’t ready yet.

    It’s fine to consult one’s parents or other trusted adults, but the final decision lies with the young people that are going to spend the rest of their lives together.After all, marriage is about leaving father and mother and cleaving to the spouse and becoming what the Bible calls “one flesh” (which I think means a lot more than just having sex).

  • Trollface McGee

    “I think young adults should be making that kind of choices for themselves. If they can’t, then they aren’t ready yet.”
    This. Exactly.

  • persephone

    Of course Joshua and Laura are spending all their time texting and skyping: they’ve been locked into a marriage they didn’t choose with someone they don’t know. Because of the betrothal setup, if one or both of them decides not to go through with it, they will be considered to have rejected not only their fathers, but their religion and subject to all that entails. Having been shunned myself, I know what they’ll go through, but I was probably in a better position to start a new life separate from my family than either of them, but especially Laura.

    Vaughn made a crap marriage, and now he’s got a lot to prove.

    Also, quoting Calvin automatically puts you on the d-bag list.

  • NeaDods

    I wouldn’t be so quick to brag that the kids would have betrothed themselves “in two minutes” to someone they were “shyly avoiding.” First, if you can’t see the disconnect there, the rest of us can. Second, that data could equally mean that both of them are gagging so hard to get out from under your respective thumbs that they just don’t care who they end up with as long as they can see a way out.

    Especially as you are more focused on their obedience than their happiness.

  • Saraquill

    If the deal was largely between the dads, then why weren’t they the ones to get betrothed?

  • Madame

    It takes some very controlling parents to want obedience from adult children. They may conform for a while. Maybe a few years. But at some point, they will want to do their thing and get on with their lives, together or not, and resent the heavy thumb of papa and his Bible. I’ve been there. It wrecks relationships.

  • NeaDods

    Exactly! Control is not the same as love. Control is not the same as wishing best.

    Control is telling the world and the child that they are not competent or worthy to live their own lives. And whose fault is it that an adult child is not competent to live as an adult?

  • Kristen Rosser

    Of course Laura and Josh left the decision up to their fathers. They did so because their fathers had told them this was the only “godly” way to do things, and they believed that if they didn’t do it this way, God would be displeased and their families might even shun them. Of course they were, and are, excited to finally get to meet someone and move towards establishing a life of their own together. That’s what young people do: they become adults. But that doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t actually have a real choice about whether or not to do courtship and accept their fathers’ will; nor do they have any other method of finding a mate to compare with the only choice they were given.

    Under the circumstances, the fact that they’re happy about this really can’t be taken as evidence that this is what they would have really wanted if actually given another real, viable alternative.

  • Theo Darling

    If you love it so much, THEN WHY DON’T YOU MARRY IT.

    (Could not resist. Am sorry.)