NLQ Review: Sex, Mom and God by Frank Schaeffer

Midwife at the Birth of Quiverfull

A review by Hopewell

Frank Schaeffer, son of Fran and Edith Schaeffer of L’Abri fame, continues his personal memoirs in his new book Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. Before I review the book I want to say that I was sent a copy to review by Frank Schaeffer, but was not paid for my review so the views expressed here are my own.

I have often cited Schaeffer’s “Calvin Becker Trilogy”
as some of the funniest books I’ve ever read. That said, I’ve found his non-fiction version of his life to be tougher reading. While his fiction is trim, funny and pulls the reader fully into the story, his non-fiction sort of rambles. And has a somewhat bitter edge to it. Considering his upbringing, these are not surprising and they do not come across as whining–more like talking in circles. That said, I learned a lot of new information in this volume, and did certainly get some good laughs.

Readers of this blog who read and critique my Duggar-family posts, will be especially interested in Frank’s role in birthing the Quiverfull movement. Way back in the Day, when he was still styled “Franky Schaeffer” (to distinguish him from from his same-named father), Frank was literary agent to a new Christian author named Mary Pride. With the Schaeffer name attached, Pride’s book was a shoe-in. Today we know her, and her (in)famous book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality as the Spiritual Mother of the Quiverfull Movement. Frank(y) then, was her midwife.

What makes Frank(y)’s role so intriguing, is the fact that his parents were very much pro-birth control. His mother, who in fact and fiction, loved nothing (except maybe the Lord) more than discussing sex, revealed to her very young son that not only was his father a “passionate” lover, but his needs were such that they had marital relations every day–even when Mom was “off the roof” and Biblically unclean due to menstruation. She also showed him her diaphram and explained its purpose fully to her surprised son.

Known as well for her talks on the importance of keeping a man’s needs fulfilled as she was for her Hidden Art of Homemaking
[life style and book of same name--which predate Martha Stewart and still have a cult-like following today], Edith famously said that even on the Mission Field a wife needs a see-thru black nightie to entertain her husband. After “The Way Home,” Edith questioned her son with “Where did you find this unfortunate woman?” Like much of Edith’s prose, rhetoric and general life questions, this is a question still relevant today.
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Dispelled ~ One Girl’s Journey in a Home School Cult ~ Part 7: Surviving Abuse

Please note: The content contained herein does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of the NLQ blog and its administrators.

by Chandra

For a brief while, the storms in my life had appeared to reach a kind of calm. While I still, at 17, remained friendless and lonely, at least Candi’s abusive and bullying behavior towards me took a backseat as I prepared for my last year of “high school.”
My education, all twelve years of it, had been a complete fraud. The closer I become to achieving my degree in Special Education, the more I am dumbfounded how one parent could let their child’s academic achievements become so neglected. Not only am I a soon to be educator, I am also a parent of three sons who are all in school. Honestly, it sickens me.

My best friend and I have since concurred, that even though the state of Missouri had laws on what we had to achieve in order to graduate school, we both knew that neither of our mothers had done a thing to help keep us up to date and within the bounds of one of the nation’s laxest homeschooling laws. We both understood that in order to graduate, we had to meet certain requirements within our high school transcripts. Though both of us pleaded for help, our mothers ignored our pleas. We took matters into our own hands (just to have freedom!) and forged our own transcripts. Not my proudest moment, and I am sure that I did myself no favors. However, to borrow a cliché’: Desperate times call for desperate measures. If every state had strict oversight of homeschooling families, and a social worker assigned to each family in order to catch neglect and abuse, then this would not be an issue.

I can say with a great amount of confidence that based on my preliminary research, nearly 80% of homeschooling graduates that I have spoken with never completed 100% of the requirements that were needed in their state in order to graduate (if that state had no oversight or accountability written into their laws). The only ones who have met these standards, within these lax states, were the ones whose parents either a) enrolled them in an on-line learning school or b) their parents’ had a higher degree (e.g. a Masters) and a great amount of emphasis was placed on academic achievement (not character achievement). Someone needs to intervene on behalf of these children, and something needs to be done to rework the current laws on homeschooling. Yet again another reason I write.

I was pretty lonely in my senior year, and really regretted the fact that when I spoke to my Grandmas they would frequently ask me if I ever wanted to attend a senior prom. Wanting to please my parents, and escape the brainwashing of my mom, I gave them the answer that my parents needed to hear. I was happy being homeschooled, and “saving” myself for that one special person. Dating in high school, I told them, was wrong. Deep down, I wished that my mom had been out of the range of hearing so that I could have a private conversation with one of them and tell them just how unhappy I was. Not only was I not allowed to tell them what was really going on in my life, I was never trusted to talk to them apart from my mom. I was deeply saddened that I was missing out on such a big part of high school. I would look at my cousins’ prom pictures and my heart would cry. I longed to have a formal gown, longed to dance, longed to just have fun. And more than anything, I longed to have a friend.

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Dispelled ~ One Girl’s Journey in a Home School Cult ~ Part 6: Growing Pains

Please note: The content contained herein does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of the NLQ blog and its administrators.

by Chandra

For the last six months, I dreamt of living in Texas and of being free. I knew that I didn’t know Gabe, but just the thought of getting out of the hell that I was currently in was all that I cared about. Everything else paled in comparison to the nightmare that I was living. My optimism still kept me going, and I was confident that even though I had been keeping an enormous secret from my parents, and that I didn’t know who this guy was, I would still find love and freedom. Two things I desperately wanted.

I began to use the babysitting and housecleaning money that I would receive weekly from our neighbors, to buy wedding magazines and collect things for my hope chest. I was truly convinced that the right way of doing things was to go through a betrothal process that would eventually end in a tightly monitored engagement period. I was determined to win the favor of this family by being the perfect example of a good homeschooled girl. My heart, for those six months, sang.

Maybe part of the reason why I am not so enamored with springtime as the majority of the populace is because nothing ever good came out of the months of February, March, and April for me. Our homeschooling conference was to be held in June, and by the time that April had made her entrance, mom and Candi were furiously working around the clock trying to finalize all of the many details that went into planning such a major event. This meant frequent phone conversations with one another that would last for well over six hours in a given day and also numerous phone calls to the speakers and vendors.

I knew from having been raised in this movement, that Candi would be speaking with Gabe’s dad, Mr. New, about his hotel arrangements and the sessions that he would be presenting to the flock. Candi and my mom took very seriously their role as leader, or “Shepard” as they referred to themselves. Much care and endless hours were spent with each convention speaker ensuring that the material they were presenting was exactly what they wanted “their people” to hear. Rather than being a facilitator of information, they felt they had been called by God to teach these “precious families” the way that God wanted them to live: in fear. We lived in fear of government, fear of extended family, fear of neighbors, fear of culture, and fear of the world and these fears dictated our belief system. Our homeschooling group had become an isolationist cult and it was led by two very powerful women: Candi and my mother.

Sometime in April, my mother began to carry around an air of hatred towards me again and I could tell that it was something that I had done, or failed to do. I knew to ask her what the problem was would be asking for unwarranted trouble so I kept my distance from her. I hid in my room to escape my toxic family and listened to Christian cassette tapes that I had bought covertly. My mom was adamantly opposed to Steven Curtis Chapman (too worldly), Michael W. Smith (too worldly), Newsboys (rock music was not Christian music), DC Talk (Christian rappers were wolves in sheep’s clothing), Amy Grant (she had an affair), Sandi Patty (she had an affair too), Rebecca St. James (not only did God hate rock music, Ms. St. James was not a “true homeschooler” and “not one of the flock”)…and of course every CD that I owned in my collection were from these artists. They lifted me up on the wings of hope and helped my heart to feel close to Christ. But I couldn’t sing along with them and I had to hide the tapes well.

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Dispelled ~ One Girl’s Journey in a Home School Cult ~ Part 5: Freedom Longing

Please note: The content contained herein does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of the NLQ blog and its administrators.

by Chandra

My sixteenth birthday was fast approaching and something unusual was going to occur: I would be allowed to have my second birthday party, and this was no small matter: It would be my first co-ed party. I had sufficiently stuffed my depression and became exactly what they wanted: quiet, gently, reserved, and pious. In fact, I became so good at playing this game of theirs that I had eventually gained respect because I was so vocal in support of The Movement. Never a complaint was uttered again from my lips about how much I hated my situation. I learned to adapt so that I could survive and escape the abusiveness. Granted my father and I did not get along, but at least my mom’s spiritual abuse subsided. I learned to accept that this was simply my lot in life.

I actually regret that. I was telling my husband just the other day that if there was one regret that I had while in my parent’s home, it was that I allowed my personality to be squelched to such a level that even I barely recognized myself. I wish that I would have been a stronger person and simply refused to listen to their Kool-aid. I wish I would have talked to my grandmas and my aunts, I wish I would have been true to myself and been the person that I was created to be. I suppose hindsight is everything.

The big nagging question in my life was how on earth would I meet someone to marry out of this family? And how on earth would I do that when I was never allowed to be around guys? I knew that I had missed the boat on scholarships, and whenever I would bring up to my mom about going away to college or taking the ACT or SAT, I was pushed aside.

My family had risen to quite the level of power and status in our area, though the homeschooling groups themselves were riddled with infighting and politics. I listened daily to my mom giving advise to those who would call asking for help on applying for scholarships, when to begin applying for colleges, and when to take the ACT or SAT. I knew the answers. You apply for scholarships at the end of your sophomore year, apply to colleges in your junior year, and take the ACT or SAT every year from your freshman year on.

But I was a Daughter of The Movement, and those types of girls just simply did not do those things. It did not matter that I requested, nagged, and implored them to let me go to college, I was to remain at home until I married. I was to remain under my father and mother’s tyrannical reign, and then my husband would rule me. At that point, that actually sounded appealing. I wanted to take the ACT or SAT exam, but that was where my mom and Candi’s sick paranoia kicked in. They believed that “the government” used those tests as a means to “track” individuals and “come after them.” Think extremist and conspiracy theorist paranoia. That was who they were and that was Mom and Candi’s reason for not allowing us kids to take the exam. And there was no convincing otherwise, not by us girls or by our dads, because we all knew who really wore the pants in the family. Their idea of biblical submission was all for show.

So I knew that I would be left with very little options, other than to marry. My parents were all over arranged marriages, courtship, and betrothals. Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler and Norm Wakefield were frequent visitors at our homeschooling conferences. With as dysfunctional as my family was, that concept caused me great cause for anxiety. I knew that if they were to spend any amount of time with my family that my chances of securing a courtship-proposal were as good as over. While for some girls, this concept may- and I emphatically stress, may- have worked to their benefit, I knew that this simply would not work for me. I knew that I was going to have to take those matters into my own hands.
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Dispelled ~ One Girl’s Journey in a Home School Cult ~ Part 4 : The Darkness Sets In

Please note: The content contained herein does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of the NLQ blog and its administrators.

by Chandra

The next morning was back to business as usual in our home. There would be no mention of my suicide attempt until I would bring it up, nearly ten years later. I knew waking that morning that Christ himself had pulled me through last night, even at fourteen. I didn’t know though, how I would get through the days and years ahead of me, that I had yet to live.

Emotionally I was spent. Going through puberty was difficult enough, and even more difficult because that also was a topic off limits to discuss. Sexual “things” were just not dealt with in our home, and like everything else that my mom and dad wanted to hide from, was swept under the rug. I had been on an emotional roller coaster in the last several months, ranging in emotions from being openly rejected to wishful hoping that somehow this scandal could be reversed: and I would once again be welcomed into loving arms by the only community that I knew.

Once everyone’s positions and the issues had been exposed, I was left alone. Alone. I hate that word…what I had remaining in my life were three things: my journal, my Bible, and my cat. I sank into a deep, deep depression.

Oh, I covered it well. I had to. But deep down there was a daily nagging, a restless wondering of, I have no one. I have no friends and no one to confide in. No one to talk to. Nightly for years, I would cry myself to sleep on my pillow, silently praying out to God “to just give me one friend, any friend, someone that I can talk to.” Those are still painful moments for me to remember and recall. [Read more...]