Why Courtship Fails: A Male’s Perspective

by The Graduate

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.

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Doug Phillips on the Threat of Population Decline

Libby Anne has an interesting article this morning at Love, Joy, Feminism addressing overpopulation (an issue which is only controversial among those fundamentalist Christians who hold that the Genesis command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies today):

I recently ran across an article on Vision Forum president Doug Phillips’ blog, in which he repeats a line I heard so often growing up: Our world isn’t facing an overpopulation crisis, but is rather headed toward a demographic decline that will result in economic catastrophe. In other words, having 12+ children doesn’t contribute to overpopulation but rather serves as a way to fight and avert the potential problems of demographic decline.

This idea is frequently put forward by the conservative Christian news magazine World, and has been the subject of several documentaries, including Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb. It shouldn’t be surprising that this idea was put forward in the 1970s by the man who single-handedly created dominionism, Rousas Rushdoony himself. Based on these ideas, Vision Forum, which sells Rushdoony’s books and supports his views, recently held a pro-mass-reproduction event called the Baby Conference.

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How the Doctrine of Hell Justifies Quiverfull Authoritarian Parenting

by Libby Anne

From my experience, I would argue that hell is the worst Christian doctrine of all. I’m not even going to get into how there is no justice in punishing finite transgressions with eternal torture, or into all the other problems with the theological ins and outs of hell. Instead, I’m referring to the practical implications of the doctrine.

I am a mother. I look at my beautiful young daughter, so full of life and joy and excitement and curiosity, and I feel my love for her bubbling up in my heart. If I believed that there were any possibility that this sweet little thing could end up tortured in a lake of fire for eternity, I would leave no stone unturned in desperately working to keep her from this fate.

In my quest to keep my daughter from unimaginable pain, I would probably be highly susceptible to religious leaders offering various methods for raising good Christian children, and easily taken in by their promises to keep my daughter’s soul from destruction. I would do anything I had to do, buy any book, try any method, risk any hurt. What parent wouldn’t?

Fundamentalist preacher and author Michael Pearl promises parents that if they discipline their children just so, including an emphasis on absolute obedience and the use of hitting to back it up, they will not stray from God’s path, and if he warns that if children are allowed to grow up without such discipline, they will be set on the path to hell. Is it any wonder that so many parents follow Pearl’s highly problematic parenting methods?

Leading Christian patriarchy organization Vision Forum promises that if you raise your children according to their teachings, homeschooling in order to “shelter” from “evil influences” and “teach God’s truth” and emphasizing the hierarchical teachings of Christian patriarchy, your child will not stray from Christ’s side like all those willful pagan children in the public schools. Is it any surprise Vision Forum has such a draw?

Bill Gothard’s Institute for Basic Life Principles also promises a perfect godly family, with highly problematic consequences. Mercy Ministries and Hephzibah House promise to restore your rebellious teenage daughter’s faith, though both have been linked to abuse.Exodus International promises to “cure” your gay son or daughter, though actual science is nowhere on their side. And on and on and on it goes.

If I believed there was any chance my small daughter could go to hell, I would turn to any method I could to keep her from this unimaginably horrible fate.

Attend church three times a week? Check. Homeschool using only religious textbooks? Check. Control her every interaction with others to keep her away from “bad influences”? Check. Follow strict child training methods that involve enforced obedience and hitting her if she so much as has a bad attitude? Check. Employ emotional manipulation or even threaten to cut her off if she grows up to make wrong choices, hoping that tough love will bring her back? Check.

Simply put, I would do anything I had to to keep my daughter from eternal torture. I suspect any parent would, really.

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Carefully Scripted Lives – The Real Reality of the Duggar Family "Blessings"

by Libby Anne

I can’t say how often I’ve heard ordinary Americans defend Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their popular TLC television show, 19 Kids and Counting. “I wouldn’t choose to have nineteen kids,” they say, “but if they can manage it, who am I to question their choice?” “The kids look happy and healthy,” they say, “look how polite and well mannered they are.” I hear these comments and I just have to sigh.

First of all, I want to pout out that I would have concerns about the Duggars even if they were your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. For one thing, there is no way any two parents can give nineteen children the individual attention and time they need. It’s just not feasibly possible. The Duggars like to say that “love multiplies,” but the thing is, time doesn’t. And then, of course, there is the population issue.

But it’s not these things I’m going to discuss here. The fact is, the Duggars aren’t just your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. There is a great deal of editing that goes into making TV, and one thing that gets edited out are the Duggars’ religious beliefs and their beliefs about child rearing. There is much, much more going on here than you see on TV.

I know this because I grew up in a family very much like the Duggars. We had a third fewer kids and we didn’t have a TV show, but otherwise it was about the same. Our beliefs were nearly identical to theirs, as was our way of living. When I look at the older Duggar girls, I see myself. I was them. With that in mind, I’m going to take a moment to outline nine specific concerns I have about the Duggars.

1. Isolation and Indoctrination

The Duggar childern are homeschooled in part in order to shelter them from bad influences, i.e. from other kids and teachers who hold different beliefs or live different sorts of lives. The Duggar kids don’t have friends who aren’t pre-approved by their parents. In fact, the Duggar kids aren’t even involved in church activities – their family participates in a “home church” where they and several other like-minded families get together on Sunday mornings and worship together.

Furthermore, even the older Duggar children are not allowed to go anywhere without having an “accountability partner,” i.e. another sibling, to keep tabs on them. When one of the older boys volunteered at the local fire department, one of his sisters always went with him to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get in trouble.

Another reason the Duggar children are homeschooled is in order to teach them “God’s truth.” This means that they use religious textbooks, creationist science curriculum, etc. I understand that we have this thing called “freedom of religion” in our country, but I also believe that children have a right to an education, and teaching children one side of everything becomes indoctrination rather than education.

Not surprisingly, the Duggars’ computers have internet access limited to about seventy “approved” websites. To get unlimited internet access, the children – even the older ones – have to get a password from their mother and then have another sibling sitting by them watching the screen as they surf the web to make sure they stay out of trouble. The main reason for this is likely to keep the children from viewing internet pornography, but it also helps ensure that they don’t get subversive information or other viewpoints.

2. Children raising children

If you think Michelle is the one raising all of those kids, think again. Those older daughters, some of them already adults, are the ones who are actually doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. They are, in effect, raising their younger siblings.

Now I’m not saying Michelle sits back and watches soap operas while the kids work, but rather that with that many children there is simply too much for her to do on her own. She doesn’t have the time or energy to raise her children without her older daughters’ help. And fortunately, because the Duggars homeschool, those older daughters are available to help 24/7.

The Duggars have this thing called the “buddy system.” When each new child is born, that child is assigned to one of the older children. In this way, the older children are responsible for dressing, feeding, and even educating the younger children. Michelle hadthis to say about the buddy system:

This house would not work if we didn’t have the buddy system. The older children mentor the younger ones. They help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day, help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that they want to wear that day, and just all of those types of things.

I’m all for siblings helping each other and playing together, but this goes way further than this. This is siblings raising each other. And as we’ll see, this means a lot of sacrifice for the older siblings doing the raising. [Read more...]

The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part 3: Pop Guns & Purity Rings

by Starfury

Growing up, I read books like The King’s Daughter, Dear PrincessBeautiful Girlhood, Waiting for Her Isaac, and The Courtship of Sarah MacLean over and over. I would plan out having twenty six children, so I could use every letter of the alphabet when I named them. I would try to devise my own homeschool curriculum based on the ones I had used, and what I liked and didn’t like about them. On top of all that, I was writing my own Proverbs 31 devotional.

And yet, somewhere in all of this, I was still punching things into a ”computer” on a tree, and yelling for everyone to get out and climb the Jeffries Tubes because of a warp core breach. Rather than make a hoop skirt, I made a Confederate general’s uniform for the end of unit celebration. I was almost fifteen, the homeschool convention was happening over my birthday, and I wanted two things: a Vision Forum pop gun, and a purity ring from Generations of Virtue.

I got both.

They probably assumed the pop-gun would do little harm, after all, I had seven brothers and probably wanted to use it on them, until I tired of it and returned to my books and daydreams. The people at the Vision Forum booth looked a little more wary when they saw my dad hand the pop-gun over to me, but I didn’t care. After all, I’d grown up fashioning blasters out of Legos with my brothers, so we could play at Star Wars or Star Trek. Now I just had a gun that actually made noise when you shot it!

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