Quoting Quiverfull: Tangled is Amoral?

Quoting Quiverfull: Tangled is Amoral? November 27, 2012

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encouragereaders to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.


It was mentioned in the comments yesterday that the Botkin sisters also had an interesting take on the Disney movie “Tangled” and how it related to Patriarchy.

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin on “Tangled”  at Visionary Daughters April 19,2012

What makes advising you tricky is that the brains who crafted your universe and situation never presented you with a good option. The film offered you two choices at the beginning: 1. Rot your useless life away in the tower with the world’s most detestable mother; or, 2. Defy your mother and run away from home with a thief. Your only visible choices now are: 1. Rot your useless life away in the tower with the world’s most detestable mother; or, 2. Follow your feelings, denounce your mother as a kidnapping imposter with no evidence, and leave again. Yes, it does occasionally seem that the only options life presents are bad ones, but in reality, doing right is always an option. Film has the power to create dishonest moral scenarios, forcing its characters to play a version of the lifeboat game (Who will you throw overboard, passenger A or passenger B?) and never offering a third option. And by making your option A look unspeakable, while making your option B look irresistible, “Tangled” draws us in so deeply that by the time your first moral dilemma comes around, we’re rooting for you to do (what we would normally call) the wrong thing.

So what is the right (biblical) thing for you to do, now? Here are a few (serious) suggestions:

1. Check the facts regarding your identity.

Feelings, hunches, and childhood drawings are a bad guide (and insufficient evidence), especially in such high-stake situations. There are ways to figure out who you are. We, the audience, of course know that your Mother is actually an evil kidnapper and the villain of your story; but you, the protagonist, currently have about as much reason to suspect this as every girl in the audience does her own parents.

If you were wrong, and she turns out to have been your biological mother all along:

2. Apologize sincerely for disobeying, deceiving, and defying her.

Some protest that you were justified in breaking the 5th commandment because she wasn’t really your mother, but let’s be honest: You didn’t leave because you knew that. You didn’t leave because you knew your mother’s command was biblically unlawful. You didn’t leave because you thought it would be wrong to stay and submit to the unbiblical tyranny of a kidnapping sorceress. You left because there was something you really wanted to do, the authority over you forbade it, and you decided to do what you wanted to do it anyway. You actually believed, and said, that it would be wrong for you to go. In your mind, you were as guilty of rebellion as the girl whose parents forbid her to go to a wild party and who sneaks out to go anyway: You left because you didn’t care.

We’re truly sorry that the filmmakers gave you such a loathsome creature as a mother. But if it’s wrong for her to be a law unto herself, you need to hold yourself to the same standard. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Sam. 15:23)

3. Biblically examine the legitimacy of her commands.

Even if she is your biological mother, however, that doesn’t mean you have a duty of unconditional submission to her whims. “The requirement of unquestioning obedience by any human authority is a sin and defiles the very intent of God’s Word,” writes R.J. Rushdoony. “The unquestioning obedience which Scripture requires is only to God, never to kings, rulers, employers, husbands, or parents. To render unquestioning obedience is a sin.”

There comes a time when, in the words of our founders, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!” What you need to ask yourself is: Is your mother forcing you to sin, or is she forbidding you to do something God has commanded? In either case, you must disobey. (By the way, God didn’t command you to go see the floating lights.) And if she is physically abusing you or endangering your life, you have a duty to not be an accomplice to her crimes. You need to get out of there. Thankfully, you are fit and resourceful, as well as handy with your lasso hair, and you’ve gotten out of tougher scrapes. We’ll root for you.

             4. Appeal to her regarding her sins against you in the spirit of Matthew 18:15:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” If she refuses to be reasonable, the biblical answer is not to simply walk away from her forever. Verse 16 continues, “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Use your resourcefulness to bring in some authorities to handle the situation – and, yes, submit yourself to them. Unaccountable autonomy is an alternative Scripture never offers anyone, man, woman, or child.

However… If she is not your biological mother, but instead a kidnapper:

                          2. Employ your resourcefulness to go to the authorities.

God condemned kidnapping as seriously as murder (Ex. 21:16, Deut. 24:7), and she needs to be brought to justice. This is bigger than you and your feelings; she has sinned against God and your parents as well as you, and right must be done.

However, if justice is really your concern, then

3….You also need to report the most wanted thief in the kingdom, who has also stolen precious items (the tiara) from your parents.

Flynn has also sinned against God and your parents, and again, this is bigger than you and your feelings. Biblically, he wouldn’t be hung or have his hands cut off, but there are consequences for stealing (Ex. 22:1-4, Lev. 6:1-7, Prov. 6:30,31).

This is not, of course, to assume that Flynn couldn’t repent of stealing. If he did, though, he would certainly go further than saying he’s sorry and never doing it again: He would make restitution to everyone he robbed, as many times over as biblically required. It would be nice if repenting meant not having to suffer the consequences, but God is a God of justice Who requires that things be made right. That He is also a God of mercy means that He does give second chances to those who repent, confess, make things right, go their way, and sin no more… and we can too.

              4. Don’t embrace thugs just because they’re nice to you.

This film for young girls contained an interesting message: That everything your mother taught you was wrong. One interesting example was your mother’s caution that the world contained dangerous men. No one would dispute this fact in the real world, but it was a point the film pulled some tricky stunts to prove wrong. At the end of the day, the openly brutal and violent thugs were proven to be harmless to pretty blond girls. The ones shown to be the real villains were parents.

As regards both Flynn and the pub thugs – of course they have souls! But it’s no amazing discovery that the more villainous elements of society also have feelings, dreams, even artistic impulses. Hitler was sensitive and introspective, wrote poetry, loved music and art, collected artifacts, had a dream (a big one), and liked pretty blonde girls. A penchant for collecting ceramic unicorns doesn’t make a criminal innocent. It also doesn’t prove that your mother was wrong about the world – even if she was wrong about how people should respond to it (i.e. hiding in a tower). Unfortunately, neither you nor she figured out what it means to be in the world but not of the world, or the right way to be a light in the darkness

5. If you are found to be the Lost Princess, step up to the role of royal daughter, and all that that involves.

As the daughter of such obviously wonderful parents, you will obviously not have any excuses for running off to attend events they forbid, or becoming romantically entangled with young men they disapprove of. (If you never had an “authority problem” to begin with, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.) As a princess, however, your new responsibilities go even further than this. As soon as you put on that tiara, you have to stop being the main character of your story and let your subjects take that place. Instead of being slave to a tyrannical mother’s whims, you must now be a slave to duty and the needs of your people. Dancing with the peasants and drawing pictures with them on the sidewalks will not be enough. Whatever your feelings may be, you have to set an example of law-upholding conduct to your people. Whatever your (or others’) dreams may be, you have to impartially uphold justice. Whatever your diplomatic power may be, your word cannot be law.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • I don’t even know where to begin.

    What’s this about biological mothers vs kidnappers? I know it’s a movie, but a biological mother is not the only alternative to a kidnapper. For most of us it’s less clearcut. Jesus didn’t have a biological father — did that make Joseph a kidnapper or someone he didn’t need to listen to? Is parenthood about biology or about caring and responsibility? Their notion of parenthood bears no relationship to anything I know.

    In general, feelings are a better guide than complicated rules and decision trees. It’s important to understand the source of my feelings and compare with what I think my values are — fairness and kindness — but my feelings have proven to be a very good guide to right action. The way the Botkin sisters lay out rules and explanations and justifications is no way to live. It undermines one’s sense of one’s own judgement, which is clearly the point — and places everyone in danger.

    There is no sense that a “coming of age story” could even exist. There is no such thing as coming of age, because that means taking responsibility for oneself and one’s decisions — apparently an unscriptural thing to do.

    And why is a little *blonde* girl identified as particularly vulnerable — blondes are safe in the movies but not in real life? Brunettes are not in danger? Brown girls might be vulnerable but we don’t care?

    I really don’t get where they’re coming from.

  • “doing right is always an option.”

    No, it’s not and I very much doubt either one of those girls has enough life experience to truly know that. I don’t care how old they are, they are girls until they grow a pair and leave daddy’s house.

  • Paula

    This is why I would never want my daughter to be a stay at home daughter…..apparently they have so much time on their hands that they come up with this drivel.

  • A few things about this:
    “Use your resourcefulness to bring in some authorities to handle the situation – and, yes, submit yourself to them. Unaccountable autonomy is an alternative Scripture never offers anyone, man, woman, or child.”

    I’m not sure the Botkin sisters were watching the same movie. The Rupunzel character was not resourceful until the young thief opened her eyes and gave her courage from outside the closed system she was in. She’d been doing the witch’s bidding her whole life and was trapped in isolation. She would have had no idea how to find any “authorities” to help her– and the fact remains that if the Botkins are thinking of a girl in a Quiverfull situation finding outside authorities to help her, any authorities she could find would be on the side of the mother anyway.

    Blame the victim. It’s her fault she’s in this abusive situation because she’ not properly using her “resourcefulness.” Learned helplessness is what the girl has– not resourcefulness. And despite all the protestations, there really was no way out without the help of an outsider– a “sinner”– to present another view.

  • PS. A girl in a Quiverfull situation would go to the authorities she’s been taught to trust– other people in the Quiverfull movement. She would have been instilled with a deep mistrust and fear of governmental authorities. This is why she would not be able to find any authorities who would not side with the mother.

  • Saraquill

    That essay was a mess to read. I think they were trying to make a point, but I don’t think I grasped it. Also, shame on them for Godwinizing

  • Oh, man, I really can’t *wait* until they get started on Once Upon a Time.

  • T. Tiwebemal

    Wow. I hope that these crazy women NEVER have daughters of their own! The Botkin sisters sound like they have been brainwashed. They need extensive therapy!.

  • Nea

    Once Upon a Time is a show for grownups, so I very much doubt Daddy will permit them to see it. Has anyone else picked up on the creepy vibe that these theoretical adult women are writing about the teenaged heroines of movies aimed at the 8-to-13 range as though they are peers?

  • Rae

    Wait, so they’re implying that you don’t have a right to escape from someone who’s doing illegal things to you unless you’re willing to turn in everyone else you know has also done illegal things? That sounds really, really uncomfortably like some twisted things that people say to rape or abuse victims about their lives.

  • Rae

    Also, the Botkin sisters crash and burn at Biblical Step #1, ie, “Check the facts about your own identity.” Rapunzel had no facts to check that she knew for sure weren’t lies by her mother, because every. single. piece. of information about Rapunzel, about herself, her mother, or the outside world, either cam from her mother or from something that was doubtless vetted by her mother, and she likely had no idea how to go about verifying her identity. Sure, if you live in 2012 and your homeschooling parents figure that 18 is old enough to be allowed in the library unsupervised, or if your family is the type to keep birth certificates in your own house, that’s great. But Rapunzel? To get information from a source other than her mother, she has to go out of the tower, without her mother’s permission, in the first place.

  • Rae

    I don’t think I’ve met anyone who thinks that blondes are more susceptible to violence than brunettes, but the second part is spot on: In sentences like that, “blond” is code for “white” that won’t immediately set off the average person’s racism alarm.

  • Lynn

    Wow. I really don’t care for the idea that a woman/girl who does not have the resources or courage to leave the situation is an “accomplice” to the sin. Can’t win for losing.

  • Actually, there a lot of Botkin Moral Lessons in there. Regina, for instance, is a wonderful example of what happens when you disobey your parents. If only she’d done as Cora asked from the beginning, nothing bad would have happened to Daniel or her!

    I can’t help thinking the Botkins here are talking to the parents – explaining why these things are BAAAD and they shouldn’t let their children watch them. Which is ridiculous seeing as these girls aren’t parents.

  • There are a lot of people in QF/Patriarchy that I get angry at when they spout poison, but these girls (lucrezaborgia is right: girls is the word for them, not women) simply make me think: “forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

  • Nea

    Arguably, as they exist to repeat what their Authorized Male Parent has told them, it is a parent talking to other parents… Daddy preaching through the mouths of his daughters.

    It occasionally freaks me out to realize that I allow my pets more emotional autonomy than the parents of the Botkin girls, Duggar children, etc., allow their actual human offspring, but that’s a rant for another post.

  • The “she can’t run away from Gothel if her own motives are not 100% pure” is the worst thing implied here. And one of the LAF women said the same thing. You can say no to rapists, thiefs, abusers, kidnappers or any kind of exploiter, even if you never reach perfection on this earth.

    The idea is that there is some kind of “God-given right to rule” which parents still have when children are adults and when the rule is not the best interest of the adult offspring. If you don’t share this belief with the sisters, the whole argument here is baseless.

    And tyrants have to be resisted long before they are “forcing you to sin.” I resist thieves by having a lock on my home – not because thieves force me to sin, but because they have no right to my stuff. The same thing with tyrants – if they have no right to make a command, you do not need to obey it. Parents are not given any right to keep an adult child locked away at home. Rapunzel’s guilt for running away is false guilt. She did no wrong.

    If authorities are impeding you from using your gifts, from being what you can be, they are limiting your God-given potential, and they are the sinners then. If they use you to gratify any form of selfish need, they are sinning. Should Rapunzel enable the selfishness and vanity she sees in Mother Gothel by staying?

    As for checking facts, the first thing the sisters recommend – escaping is a prerequisite for checking out facts about life in this case!

    As for the verse on “if your brother sins against you – that counts for a fellow christian with equal power, a brother. Oppressors over you, not on your level and not followers of the Jesus who said “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” are not brothers.

    “Wanting to see the lights” is probably the closest the movie could come to spiritual guidance without invoking the name of a deity, which would be controversial in a cartoon. Something or Someone told her that of all the things she sees from the tower window, that one is the one that should draw her. These lights are more relevant than anything else.

    Botkins girls, I pray one day you will follow the Light and step outside your tower!

  • Rae

    That’s also something that bothers me, that they imply that if Gothel was Rapunzel’s biological mother, she’d have had the right to keep her – an adult woman – locked in the tower, even though that’s explicitly illegal in most places.

    Although, on the other hand, couldn’t the Botkin daughters see that Gothel was preventing Rapunzel from fulfilling her God-given duty to become a wife and mother? /sarcasm