“Taking Her Myself” A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship/Betrothal

“Taking Her Myself” A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship/Betrothal January 6, 2013

by Vyckie Garrison (originally posted at Politicus USA Sept. 9, 2011)

Does God Hate Women?“ author, Ophelia Benson recently shared a note which was posted on Reddit written by a young patriarch describing his “biblical marriage.”

 As Bible-believing Baptists who hold to reformed theology, X and I believe that God is sovereign in choosing who will or will not believe in him, having chosen his people before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1), and that his selection is unbreakable and irresistible. If marriage is to mirror this principle, we believe that a woman has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man and marriage is to be an unbreakable arrangement between the man and her father. Based on this reasoning, we have shunned a standard proposal and wedding ceremony, because if I had asked her to marry me (which I did not) then I would have given her the decision to marry me rather than selecting her and taking her myself. Furthermore, if we had exchanged conventional marriage vows, our union would have been based on X’s will and consent, which are not Biblical factors for marriage or salvation. Instead, I asked X’s father for his blessing in taking her hand in marriage. When he gave his blessing, X and I considered ourselves to be unbreakably betrothed in the sight of God. While we had initially intended to consummate our marriage after today’s symbolic ceremony, we instead did so secretly after private scripture reading, prayer, and mutual foot-washing.

PZ Meyers commented on Pharyngula, “It made my skin crawl.”  Yeah – mine too.

As Quiverfull Believers dig ever-deeper into their Bibles in search of the truly “biblical model” for godly marriage, ideas about courtship and “betrothal” are becoming increasingly savage and brutish.  It would seem unlikely that Courtship standards could get even more oppressive considering that Christian notions of “biblical match-making” have already been taken to outrageous extremes.

Josh Harris started a back-to-bible-living revolution among Christian young people when he advocated the courtship model in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. What – no dating for teens? Now that’s a radical concept! As “bible believers” jumped on the bandwagon of father-led pairing of qualified young men and women in serious pursuit of marriage, popular Quiverfull patriarchs took biblical courtship to a new level of paternal domination as they pointed to Old Testament examples of “betrothal” as the very best way to ensure the future success of Christian marriage.

Jonathan Lindvall, teaching “God’s Design for Youthful Romance,” cited the betrothal of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman as an ideal example of a “true romantic betrothal.”  Lindvall describes the crazy-making process by which Maranatha’s father, Stan Owen, orchestrated a year-long betrothal which was to be a “demonstration of Christ’s coming for His bride” based on the parable of the Ten Virgins.

Mr. Owen still faithfully directed both Matthew and Maranatha to avoid physical affection until their wedding. He particularly cautioned them to guard against impatience. Especially since Maranatha was rather young, their wedding might be quite a long way off yet. Though they hoped that the time would be soon, they nevertheless resigned themselves to the real possibility that the wedding could be a matter of years down the road, much like Jacob’s seven year betrothal to Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). Yet they were both naturally quite motivated and energetically prepared in every way they could, as quickly as they could, just in case the wedding should suddenly be announced.

Not to be outdone in the “biblical examples of courtship and marriage” department, Michael Pearl counseled his daughter, Shoshanna, to forego a state-issued marriage license:

None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts. The sooner there is such a movement, the sooner we will have a voice in government. Some of you attorneys and statesmen reading this should get together and come up with an approach that will have credibility and help to impact the political process.

Yeah … that’s “bible-believing” extremism for you – and it’s not enough to practice these ideals for themselves and their children, “biblical family values” must become the law of the land.

As a former Quiverfull believer, I used to get excited at the prospect of searching the Word and discovering greater “truths” and biblical principles – the implementation of which would bring my family increasingly closer to a truly God-honoring model of marriage and Christian home life.  At the same time, I secretly dreaded what the Lord might reveal to me next through Lindvall’s Bold Christian Living, Pearl’s No Greater Joy, and other “biblical family living” ministries.  Already I was obediently and faithfully having baby after baby to the obvious detriment of my health, submitting to my abusive husband, homeschooling, homebirthing, home churching, foregoing all government assistance including potentially life-saving health insurance and food stamps, cutting off all outside relationships with family and friends who were not like-minded Quiverfull Believers …. honestly, the regimentation and isolation made for a harsh and demanding life.

 Comments open below
Vyckie Garrison started No Longer Quivering to tell the story of her “escape” from the Quiverfull movement. Over time, NLQ has developed into a valuable resource of information regarding the deceptions and dangers of the Quiverfull philosophy and lifestyle. Several more former QF adherents are now contributing their stories to NLQ and our collective voice makes these Quiverfull warnings impossible to dismiss or ignore.

Follow Vyckie on Facebook and Twitter

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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  • Phatchick

    That has to be one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a long time! Not to mention unbiblical. IIRC, with only a handful of exceptions, the people Jesus interacted with approached him. He did not force himself or his teachings on anyone. IMHO, this is just another form of white slavery and decent people should treat it as such.

  • Chantal

    The Old Testament has been fulfilled by the new. There is no need to go by Old Testament standards… Might as well go back to no eating pork and getting circumcised.

  • wanderer

    Funny how every single “revelation” that comes to these quiverfull people manages to take away even more of the empowerment of women, and give it to men. I can’t believe that father wouldn’t even tell his daughter & her fiance when the wedding would be. What a control-freak.

  • Constance Reader

    You know, that idea of convincing your daughter not to get a marriage license is pretty interesting, considering that means they are not legally married and that his daughter has no legal protection for herself or her children, and is severely hampered in her ability to get financial support for her children, should her husband leave her or just cheat on her. Which he has no reason not to do – they are not legally married. So she will once again be completely dependent on her father for support should her husband leave (or pass away).

    Awfully convenient for the men in this equation, hmmm?

  • Sheena

    That first quotation’s ultimate message stands out to me. Notice that the couple in question decided that, since they prayed about it and engaged in foot-washing and so on, it was okay for THEM to consummate their relationship after becoming engaged (not after becoming married). That tells me that the rules apply to others, but not them — others are expected to follow the courtship model to marriage, and to wait for sex until marriage, but it was okay for them because they prayed about it first.

  • madame

    Constance Reader,
    Michael Pearl doesn’t believe in women getting any financial assistance other than from the Church if the husband leaves them. They aren’t to go out and work. If he won’t be reconciled and decides to marry another, I think MP says she is like a widow and may marry someone else who is willing to fulfill his husband duties towards her and consier herself blessed. At least that’s what he had to say to widows.
    One of the greatest fears both Debi and Michael instill on women is the horror of losing the husband and his financial provision, and they even say it’S better to have a jerk of a husband than none at all.

  • I read stories like this and I thank my fictitious God that I’m an atheist.

  • madame

    I’d read that first article, the one about taking her himself, before. It’s sick and not supported by the Bible at all. In the relationship of Christ and the Church, Christ took the first step and waits for the church to respond and say “I do”. Christ doesn’t go and take the church to himself without her consent.
    Rebekkah, in ancient old patriarchal times, was asked if she would be willing to go with Abraham’s servant and be married to Isaac. Her father (or was it her uncle?) didn’t make an agreement with Abraham’s servant and expect Rebekkah to submit to his will. She had the last word.
    Laban’s giving of Leah to Jacob is not seen as something positive.

    Sheena, I noticed the double standards, too. Sick, isn’t it?

  • smrnda

    This just reinforces my belief that conservative Christianity is just a place where insecure men go so they don’t have to deal with women as equals. What kind of a loser wants a ‘betrothal’ where the woman has no will of her own, but is given by the father to some man where her feelings count for nothing.

    I think a lot of this is the belief that marriage is all about ‘commitment,’ and the general belief that commitment isn’t good for any reason, but for its own sake. What loveless marriages must result from this.

  • Sunny

    This is the very definition of perversion. It’s perversion of the Bible, perversion of Jesus’ ministry and message, perversion of the idea of women and men being equal partners in a marriage. The woman is reduced to property and less than full humanity. What a waste of potential and gifts. I’m so very sad for these women and the lives they will lead.

  • It’s interesting to me that when people like this take Bible texts that are descriptive, and turn them into prescriptions for living, they tend to pick only the ones that reflect power for men and disempowerment for women. No one seems to want to take God’s insistence that Abraham do whatever Sarah wants with regards to Hagar, or David’s commendation of Abigail for going against her husband’s wishes, as prescriptions for female behavior.

  • madame

    Very true, Kristen.
    And what do they do with the fact that God went straigth to Mary (not Joseph, not her father) and told her she would bear His Son? Mary and Joseph were betrothed, and Joseph was going to leave her quietly so as not to disgrace her, but if it’s ok for a man to take his betrothed before marriage, why would it have been a problem if Mary was pregnant? Whatever… you can’t argue against these people because they are blinkered.
    My husband and I would turn such a man away if he so dared to approach us asking to take our daughter. He’d better fear for his life!

  • saraquill

    As I stated before, without consent, this makes the alleged husbands rapists and turns fathers into accessories to rape. Any spouse or parent worth their salt would flat out refuse to participate in such a thing.

  • Mary

    I buy all of the ickiness (and icky it is!) except the “taking her myself” dude- I question whether that is legitimate. For one thing, there are no names, no proof that someone didn’t just make it up (I’ve read the Reddit stuff) and for another thing, the book he mentions doesn’t exist on the internet. Which doesn’t conclusively prove it does not exist, but which does mean that I for one am unwilling to label it fact until I see evidence. =) The Pearl and Lindvall crap is real, and a matter of public record through their books, but I tend to think the other’s a hoax. It’s been quoted around the blogosphere more than once, but nowhere can I find evidence to support it.

  • Flora Kitty

    Me, too.

  • Flower

    My first thought when I read this was that it sounds a lot like a hoax, i.e., one of those “urban legends” that get passed around the Internet in perpetuity and that most people believe on the spot without checking to see if maybe it’s not even real. Another commenter (Mary) confirmed my suspicions. I could find no evidence to back this letter’s validity. There’s plenty of awful patriarchal garbage being promoted out there that’s for real (Mark Driscoll, the Pearls), but this is a hoax, folks.

  • Rae

    The second quote brings up two points I’ve made about gay marriage: One, if people say it’ll ruin the “sanctity of marriage”, that means they are letting the government define whether or not something is sacred. Strangely, he seems to actually buy into this.

    The second is that it’s gay people who’ll “pervert” marriage – what is it about gay couples that’s so particularly worse than couples who’ve had sex before marriage, or couples where one or both people have been married before? It truly is just about homophobia, at that rate.

  • Nightshade

    That was my thought, no consent=rape, in this case allowing for lifelong repeated rape. Or does it only count as rape for these perverts if some man’s ‘property’ is used without HIS consent?

  • No, it doesn’t get much creepier than that.

  • Ok– but in my opinion it is also the logical consequence of the beliefs espoused by neo-Calvinist patriarchalists.

  • Sadly, this “works” when you turn the government into a theocracy, which I understand is the goal.

  • Jenny Islander

    If the article isn’t a hoax, I have to ask: Why couldn’t X behave like the Holy Spirit, blow through the author’s life on her own timetable, and inspire him to sing her praises and ask her to return? Why couldn’t X behave like Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs by building her own house and standing outside it calling to a young man she considered worthy of her?

    Of course, if you’re going to insist on Biblical models . . . why shouldn’t X behave like Judith?

  • Kim

    It may be a “logical consequence of the beliefs espoused by neo-Calvinist patriarchalists” but it is also a straw man argument. I think that in this case it was passed on in good faith but if someone knew that it was a hoax (or at the very least a work of fiction) and pass it on as if were real that would be a lie.

    I agree that if this statement were true it would be horrifying, disgusting, and reminiscent of rape. It would also be completely un-biblical. However, that does not make it right to continue the hoax. I’m not saying that you are justifying such a hypothetical action, only that the hypothetical action I proposed could be taken as a logical consequence of your statement, which I do agree could be one possible logical consequence of the extreme beliefs espouse by some neo-Calvinist patriarchalists. I just don’t care for the word “the” in your original statement because it implies that it is the only possible logical consequence.

  • Kim,
    I agree that “a” logical consequence is probably more accurate.
    And I don’t think that perpetuating a hoax is justified in any event. All I was saying is that sometimes the reason hoaxes get passed on is that it is quite imaginable that they could be real.

  • naath

    I’d like to hope that he would consider his word given before God to be every bit as much of a reason to not cheat on her as a legal marriage! Forgoing the legal paperwork doesn’t mean you have “no reason not to” break your promises whether that’s because you prefer to have your marriage only sanctioned in church, or because you think marriage is an outdated misogynistic tradition, or because the law denies you the right to make your marriage legally binding.

    Speaking as an unmarried shacked-up person though there are a lot of legal benefits granted through marriage, some of which you can get individually by going and seeing a good lawyer (some you can’t). If you aren’t aware of the specifics of the local law you could very well assume that you have protections that you don’t have because you never went and got a marriage license; this is especially important for women who are financially dependent on their husbands.

  • Kim

    I understand that. I wasn’t even saying that it is not believable. All I was saying was that if a article writer passes on a story that they either know is a hoax or not true or that he/she suspects isn’t real (again, I’m not saying this one did), he or she should include a disclaimer in the article that says so for the sake of honesty.
    P.S. I noticed after I posted my previous comment that I had a couple of spelling/grammar errors and I apologize for not proofreading it better.

  • suzannecalulu

    As far as we know here at NLQ that article is true. You should see some of the things that end up in the email box here. One of them was a young man talking about courtship in the most disgusting manner not too dissimilar to the bit people are saying might be a hoax. If that is a hoax then both Vyckie Garrison and myself as the admin are unaware of it. We don’t post hoaxes here but we’ve both been in fundamentalist quiverfull Christianity long enough to see many statements and stories like that one. It seems like complete falsehoods to those outside of the movement but for those of us that lived it every day we know it’s real.

  • Flower

    “As far as we know here at NLQ that article is true.”
    You don’t seem to get it. Your readers at this point will have moved on, so I’m addressing you directly. I support you, though I’m not from Quiverfull. I follow this blog because my sister, KR Wordgazer, writes for you. Please, however, make sure that before you post something outrageous, that it’s indeed real. My sister told me to check back with the blog, i.e., that you had answered my assertations that this was a hoax. You have not done so. There is plenty of material out there to support that terrible situations like this exist, but this particular letter has nothing, absolutely nothing that backs it in its validity. Don’t you see that saying something along the line of “well it should be true because beliefs like it are true”, is not enough? When you post something that seems “real” as a “fact,” without checking on it, you lose credibility. You say that you are certain that this is a real letter. Okay. Based on what? You say it is not a hoax for no other reason than it’s like material you know about that is real. Can’t you see that this is not good enough?

  • Flower

    So this is completely true and for no other reason than Vyckie says so. Please see my above post if you are still following this conversaion.

  • I followed the links given in the original post, to the image of the original letter. I note that the book mentioned at the end by a “Joseph Beard” does not actually seem to exist (unless it was self-published by someone outside of normal markets). This would be a warning sign for a possible hoax. However, the letter does mention that a marriage license was obtained in Hall County, GA (which is a real county), and it appears that the original letter mentioned the bride’s name, which has been crossed out (unless this was part of the hoax, which would make it an elaborate one). In general, this would be a count against it being a hoax, as most hoaxes never mention actual places or names.
    I think it’s inconclusive, and I suggest this be submitted to Snopes.com for research.

  • Sorry, sis– my post above was not intended to be placed such that this one seemed to be a reply to mine. My error. But when I read the reply from Suzanne Calulu, I didn’t read it as saying “it’s completely true for no other reason than Vyckie says so.” I don’t think that’s what she was saying. That said, I do understand that it’s very hard at times to know when something is real or a hoax, and it would be better to research it further.

  • Flower

    Agreed, Kristen. And I can see how it could be inconclusive in some ways of thinking. Taken from my own spiritual abuse years, I no longer believe outrageous things I read unless there is verification. In this case, there isn’t independent verification (a place name or a scratched out name is not enough), so I don’t believe that this letter is real. But there is plenty of verification that other awful (crazy to the point of unbelievable things) do indeed exist, such as Christian Domestic Discipline, the Pearls, and even aspects of Quiverfull that the general public would find surprising and shocking. I’m glad that this support group exists for women and hope that more and more will find a way to get out. It’s hard to leave a way of life and belief no matter how destructive that life is.

  • Will

    This is why I love the Internet so much. It makes it so EASY to expose these people and their insane ideas. Heck, they’ll do it FOR you, half the time. I can’t wait to share this bizarre letter.

  • Lilah

    So, with her father’s permission, he grabbed her by the hair of her head and pulled her to his cave.

  • Funny – it seems to me that the NT specifically MENTIONS a woman’s “will” or “desires” being involved in mate selection. For Bible bangers, they sure don’t seem to know their Bible.
    “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord.” 1 Corinthian 7:39

  • Dooby Scooby

    God’s greatest gift is free will. Daddy’s greatest gift is a not-legal marriage to man who will maybe provide for you and the buckets of children, and hopefully won’t treat you like an unwanted dog along the way. I keep thinking I can’t be surprised any further, and then THIS comes along. It’s like a train wreck, I can’t look away. SMH.