(Editor’s Note: Millipede has been recounting her history of how she came to join a patriarchal lifestyle on our forum starting about six months ago. She’s graciously agreed to allow her writing to be reposted here. We thank her for that!)
To tell it in a nutshell; my husband and I became part of a reactionary milieu, joining a “movement” which addressed various issues such as gun rights, survival ism and so on. I still hold my beliefs pertaining to these issues and so this is not an indictment of “right wing extremism”. In fact those early years were wonderful and I would gladly join such a group.
I was not new to such views. Years before I even met my husband, I had been active in various causes. In the intervening years I had become inactive and so when my when my husband and I started exploring various issues I felt joy at becoming politically active again.
I am giving background, not getting up on a soap box.
Anyway, the road to patriarchy was at first slow. Even in right wing “extremist” circles there is quite a diversity of beliefs concerning patriarchy. Also, there are some who may on the surface appear to endorse patriarchal belief systems, but are actually pretty mild if not “enlightened” in their views and treatment of women. There are even some who could be called feminists. Again certain causes attract all sorts of people. It was sort of our version of the “popular front” so to speak.
What do homeschooled girls and trash cans have in common?
They both only leave the house once a week.
This joke was well-received among homeschooled youth because it rang true for so many of us. For almost all of my teen years, church was the only social activity that I engaged in, the only time during the whole week that I might have a chance to interact with people who were not my immediate family. Making friends in that context, especially as a shy teen girl, seems daunting. However, I had an even greater obstacle to deal with: I was not allowed to participate in youth group.
My parents were absolutely terrified of teenage rebellion. Thanks to various books and speakers popular in the homeschooling community, my parents believed teen rebellion to be a recent American trend due to indulgent parenting and peer pressure. A rebellious teen was more than just an annoyance in the homeschooling community: that teen was turning his/her back not only on the parents, but also on God. What a tragic waste of years of sacrifice and careful training by the parents! This type of thinking motivated my parents to maintain careful discipline and to shelter us from almost all contact with our peers, even at church.
I distinctly remember the conversation between the youth pastor and my mom. I was probably 14 or 15, and so shy that I would start shaking if anyone tried to talk to me at church. Although social interaction was painful, I desperately needed it, and I think the youth pastor noticed that. He approached my parents after church one day to invite us to Sunday school. My mom asked for the materials that were being used in Sunday school, and took them home to peruse them with my dad. I heard the decision the next week at the same time as the youth pastor: “Our kids will not be attending Sunday school.” The reason? Apparently the material mentioned a teen who was frustrated with his parents, and it was dangerous for me to think that frustration was a valid or normal feeling for a teen to have toward parents.
As a young man in my early twenties who grew up in conservative homeschool circles, I was excited to return home after spending four years in a Christian college. I had very little experience in dating and hadn’t been in a relationship in college, but I had a good degree and a solid career lined up in front of me. My parents were excited too, because they hoped that I would be able to easily find a bride among the many single homeschool girls my family knew. I was a willing participant to their plans, but I soon found out that even with the right credentials, it was still impossible for me to come against homeschool patriarchy and perfectionism.
According to Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, a girl who has spent her entire life preparing for marriage under unquestioning submission to her father should expect to have almost too many young men seeking to win her hand. Eventually, her father would choose the right one for her. Her future husband would be a paradox: ambitious and hard-working and able to support a family, yet fully under his parents’ authority and living in their house without going to college. He would be an intelligent, independent critical thinker, yet he would agree unquestioningly with every belief of his parents and church.
Most of my family’s friends subscribed to these philosophies. But as their daughters approached their late teens, these families began to realize, either consciously or subconsciously, that many of the required attributes of a “godly young man” are mutually exclusive. An ambitious, hard-working young man is going to want to go to college, or at least live at a level of independence from his parents unacceptable to Gothard and Phillips’ teachings. And any truly intelligent and critical-thinking suitor is not going to agree with his parents on everything – especially if his parents are die-hard ATI-followers.
by Kristen Rosser ~ aka KRwordgazer
God has ordained authority structures in every area of life. In every enterprise someone has to be in charge– otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. Even within the Godhead there is authority: God the Son submitted to the will of the Father. Doesn’t a solidly biblical worldview require a chain of command within the Christian family? A family is not a democracy, after all. In saying husbands should not be in charge of the home, aren’t you just attacking one aspect of God’s divine plan for authority?
It cannot be denied that human societies need some form of law, to protect people from being harmed by one another, among other things– and that laws need someone with the power to enforce them, or they are useless. But is this idea that “someone always has to be in charge,” that there is a chain of command in every area of human life, actually taught in the Bible?