Dear Happy Full-quiver-er …

Dear Happy Full-quiver-er … May 10, 2009

by Vyckie


Frequently in the comments section here at NLQ, we hear from women who are living the quiverfull/patriarchy lifestyle and are loving it ~ these women often feel that No Longer Quivering is portraying *all* QF/P families as oppressive and abusive ~ and understandably, they feel defensive about the perceived attack on their freely-chosen lifestyle.

Early on, when we first started this blog, there was an exchange along these lines which I really have been wanting to highlight ~ and I’m finally getting around to digging these posts out of the comment section and bringing them front and center because I believe that the response from “Journey” deserves some serious consideration.

From the NLQ blog, April 3, 2009:

Allison said…

I am a Christian, homeschooling, full-quiver-er who is not going to tell you that you weren’t a “true” Christian. I’m going to tell you something different…..that there are some women out there in this “movement” (your word, not mine) that are actually living a life of joy and normalcy. I have a husband who adores me and our children. He allows me to be myself. He doesn’t lord over me the convictions that we both have. We have had many people comment on the blatant love we have for each other and our children. Our home is full of laughter and learning. I take endless joy in the life I lead and the children I am raising up to serve the Lord. Just because you both ended up in terrible marriages does not make every Christian, homeschooling, full-quivering woman an abused, unintelligent, following, mindless, uninformed hag. My best friends are women who are living this “movement” blatantly, joyfully, and without an ounce of abuse or rebellion. You would do well to recognize that, admit that, and own up to the fact that just because you experienced the worst, doesn’t mean that those of us living that lifestyle come even CLOSE to feeling the way you do. We don’t. We’re just sorry that you lived through what you did and came out of it rejecting God.

Journey said…


I know similar families like yours.
What a joy they are! 🙂

What I do wish you would acknowledge, though, is that the specific teachings often promoted in this movement/camp helped contribute to the abuse, if not outrightly approved of it.

Not so much toward the abusive husband—abusive men will be abusive wherever they are (though this camp baptises their need to control and dominate their wives)—but especially in the area of the the woman’s meek *acceptance* of the hyper-controlling and dominating behavior of her husband.

I know that for me, I put up with it for MUCH longer than I ever should have, ONLY because I thought it was God’s will that I be in submission.

In fact, the very first thing that happened floored me (as we drove away on our honeymoon…that was the first time…I was shocked)…but I was a wife then…and I knew that wives HAD to submit…wives had to do whatever their husbands wanted, because wives were not allowed any personal boundaries.

When we got back from our honeymoon and he commanded that I give up my car, my tv, my guitar, etc, I complied with only a whimper of protest. I didn’t have the rights to own things anymore. I was a wife now, and my husband was my spiritual authority. HIS vision for how our home would look, for what we would do with our lives, etc, was to be MY vision. This is what I’d learned in Bible School, this is what all the books said, and besides, he wasn’t asking me to sin. Right?

So later, when my husband gave me lists for what I had to clean to perfection before being allowed to go to bed at night, etc, I submitted because I thought that was what God wanted. In fact, if there was anybody who was in sin, I was positive it was ME for feeling so humiliated at being given these long lists. I thought *my* reaction was what was sinful, not my husband treating me like a child.

According to the teachings of this camp, the only time a wife has the right to say no to her husband is when he’s asking her to sin. And giving a detailed list of how the kitchen had to be completely sanitized and toothbrush-scrubbed before I could climb the stairs for bed (where he was waiting for me, ready for some action), was not sin. Right?

My heart would sink to my stomach as I climbed those stairs, finally done with my job, and, get this, again, I was sure (thanks to all the books I’d read) that the problem was ME. I would be so ashamed of myself for MY sin at not being a cheerful and amorous wife.

I learned to fake it (because a godly wife NEVER ever says no to her husband in bed—she has no rights to any boundaries when it comes to what he wants, and that includes the most intimate parts of her own body), and I fervently prayed for the real feelings to come (looking back, er, I can figure out REAL quick why I would walk up those stairs in dread…who wants to be amorous with someone who treats you like a child…?)

Who backed up those beliefs of mine? Who taught them to me in the first place?

The patriarchy movement.

So while it’s good to openly acknowledge that there are many good families in this movement, it’s also important for you to acknowledge the part that your movement had in what happens to the families where dad isn’t a healthy person.

I learned all sorts of ways to help my unhealthy husband become even unhealthier, thanks to the patriarchy movement. I was submissive for all those years because of my love and obedience to God. I would have NEVER put up with that stuff had I not thought that God’s will was for wives to submit.

If you never say no to a toddler and always give them what they demand, you’ll have a monster on your hands in no time flat. Same with unhealthy husbands. But the patriarchy movement taught me the exact opposite, such as,

– Douglas Wilson’s “Reforming Marriage” where we were taught that I was the ground and my husband was the farmer and whatever he wanted to grow was what I had to grow.

– Doug Phillip’s publication by Phil Lancaster, “Family Man, Family Leader,” where men are told that if their wife is always happy with them, they must be doing something wrong, because a good leader will make decisions that his wife doesn’t like sometimes. That same book talked about how the husband was in charge of EVERYTHING the wife does, making my husbands hyper-control look pretty wimpy, really—making me think I had it pretty good.

– I learned it from Debi Pearl’s “Created to be His Helpmate,” where I learned that I was created solely to fulfill my husband’s vision, that when he was a “command man” and demanded this and that rudely, I had to do it with a smile. When he was a “visionary,” and had crazy ideas, I had to applaud and be his biggest fan. (I’m filing for bankruptcy now. Let’s just say the idea’s got crazier and crazier and the last one was particularly horrible). I also learned there that suffering quietly in a bad marriage was what women of faith do, and women who don’t have faith leave or talk to a counselor.

– I learned from “The Excellent Wife” that I could only give “one appeal” when I disagreed with my husband, and after that, I wasn’t allowed by God to say anything more. So when my husband was beating our dog’s head into the porch, I was only allowed to ask him to stop once. Any more than that was sin. So I ran upstairs and sobbed my prayers to God to stop my husband. I literally thought, thanks to all of these books, that submission was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, that me not submitting was a far greater crime in God’s eyes than letting an animal be beaten mercilessly.

-I learned from Denny Keneston that a godly woman is a “Hidden Woman,” she is somewhere in the background. She serves her husband as if he was an incarnation of Christ–he is her earthly lord.

-From Elizabeth Rice Standeford (or is it Standerford Rice?), “Me? Obey Him,” we learn that a woman should obey her husband in everything, even if he tells her to sin, because God promises to protect her from the worst of the sin. If her husband tells her not to go to church, she can’t go to church. If he wants to go left, she must go left, if he wants to go right, she must go right, etc. (When you are married to a hyper-controlling perfectionist, let me just say that this is really really BAD).

I won’t go on, but I have more books I could mention. I think it’s important that people in the patriarchy camp stand up and say, “We’re not all like that!” But I also think it’s important that you acknowledge that many of the “popular” books SUPPORT what happened to these families where things DIDN’T go so well.

These books do not talk about abuse in any sort of detail—many times, they actually condone it. For example, a husband controlling his wife’s decisions isn’t abusive in these books. Rather, it proves he’s a godly leader, and they encourage him to do it even more!

Those within the QF patriarchy camp, if they are opposed to abusive men having carte blanche over their families, must stand up and demand a different kind of reading material, a different kind of family vision than the one that is currently selling like hotcakes.

What happened to Laura and Vyckie is not some odd strange isolated event. What happened to my family was completely invisible on the outside. My husband was a full-time minister, lauded and loved by our congregation, during the entire time all of this was happening!

If those of you in this camp don’t stand up against your camps books and teachings that openly FEED these unhealthy families abusive behaviors, but yet still support this camp as being God’s way and back up these teachers and their publications, you are, albeit in a smaller way than the book’s authors, *helping* to contribute to the abuse.

So, yes, stand up and show the world that there ARE healthy good families in this movement. But also stand up against some of the more popular teachings in this movement that support the very thing you do not want your movement to be associated with.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forums!

A Tale of a Passionate Housewife Desperate for God by Journey:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The God Card by Journey:

More from Journey:

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