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.