Quoting Quiverfull: Don’t Blame Daddy For Your Betrothal?

Quoting Quiverfull: Don’t Blame Daddy For Your Betrothal? July 25, 2013

by Von Ohlman at True Love Doesn’t Wait – To Betroth or not to Betroth: A Response to Michael Pearl Part 1

Mr. Pearl’s article (and I should say I greatly enjoy the work that the Pearls have done on child training, his wife’s book ‘Helpmeet’, and other books and articles) begins rather interestingly, for a Biblical topical study. It begins with an example. Not an example from Scripture, but from modern life. And not just any modern life, but from his own family.This is a dangerous beginning. When one wishes to do an post-modern exploration one usually begins, and ends, with ones own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. They are, after all, all that matter. However, a Biblical study should really begin with… the Bible. Perhaps a didactic passage, perhaps a bit of history… but with Scripture.

But, as I say, he begins with his own story. And it seems as if he is holding it up, not to compare it with Scripture, but as a teaching tool in its own right. Why we should so consider the actions of Michael Pearl, we are not told. Is he an apostle? Our father in the faith? A godly patriarch? Nothing is said.

As part of his example, after he had rejected ‘suitors’ for his daughter, and she has rejected others (who didn’t pass through him), she finds call to reject a suitors who he had approved. He is quick to explain, however, that when he ‘approved’ them, he did not pass this approval onto his daughter. Or, in his own words, “I said to them, “Hey, it is fine with me, but it is her you must convince.” But Rebekah never gave any of them the time of day.” And “I did not speak to her on behalf of these young men,”.

His reason for ‘not speaking’ speaks volumes. He states, “I would never disrespect my daughter by commencing an arrangement without her knowledge.” With this one sentence, Michael rejects every single Godly marriage for which we have pattern in Scripture. In fact, I don’t know of any unGodly marriage in Scripture that he doesn’t reject with this phrase. He rejects every single marriage in Scripture as ‘disrespectful’. Godly parents, from God the father through Abraham, not only ‘commenced’ the arrangement ‘without her knowledge’, they ‘finalized’ the arrangement.

He further reasons this way, “If my kids come on hard times in their marriages, I want them to know that it is they who chose their life’s partner, not me.” If someone can find anything in Scripture that comes close to authorizing this, I await your input. Everywhere in Scripture we find the exact opposite principle. Even from Christ Himself

Comments open below


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 encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.
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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  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Thanks for posting again. Note on copyright:
    My articles may be freely copies, as long as attribution is given in the form of a link to my site and my name is mentioned. So there is no need to post just part of the article to avoid copyright violation.

  • Nightshade

    I never thought I’d see the day that I agreed with Mr. Pearl about ANYTHING…

  • gimpi1

    “If someone can find anything in Scripture that comes close to authorizing this, I await your input. Everywhere in Scripture we find the exact opposite principle.”

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we should not try to adapt our lives in a high-tech, 1st-world, temperate-zone country in the 21st century to ideas developed for pastoral, bronze-age to early iron-age desert cultures. Why on earth would anyone look to the standards of early tribal herders to determine the best way to marry?

    We don’t live there. They don’t live here. They were living short, brutal lives, a hairs-breath away from starvation, literally trying to out-breed other tribes in order to dominate a territory enough to survive. We are living in a world so different there is no way you could even describe it to them. It’s like trying to take the standards of the Aztecs, and deciding we need to get back to ritual sacrifice to make the rains come.

    Oh, wait, Scriptural Inerrancy. Never mind.

  • Yeah. And it leaves me feeling a wee bit awkward.

  • Saraquill

    I don’t think it’s to avoid copyright issues. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

  • Saraquill

    Saying that G-d does not like consent does not endear people to this version of Christianity.

  • Trollface McGee

    My first reaction was this. “I just agreed with Michael Pearl,” “I just found him to be reasonable on an issue,” then I felt a bit sick to my stomach.

  • Trollface McGee

    You cannot marry someone without their consent. Such a marriage is invalid. Forcing someone into marriage against their will is illegal and if a sexual assault occurs, then the people forcing the marriage can and should be held as accomplices. I don’t care what people did 2,000 years ago or 100 years ago, today we recognise such behaviour to be immoral and illegal.

  • NeaDods

    I’m not at all surprised that an authoritarian would adore “To Beat Up A Child” and “Created To Be His Doormat.” I am surprised, though, that Von is willing to to bear false witness on the Bible itself, claiming that no couple has had the chance to choose their own partner. He must not read it very closely, or it must be missing entire books. No Rachel. No Lot’s daughters. Not even God choosing Mary, who he most certainly must have known!

    Although I can answer one easy question. Why does Michael Pearl,hold up his family,a business to be emulated? Because it’s very clear from the writings of all the Pearls that Michael thinks he’s god.

  • NeaDods

    Von isn’t interested in little details like law, ethics, or morality. If he can find a single instance in the Bible, it’s good enough.

  • Nightshade

    It is a rather disturbing experience.

  • Theo Darling

    Unfortunately it seems to be kind of a consistent thread running through some other teachings as well. http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/you-cant-say-no-to-god-conservative-christianity-and-consent/

  • persephone

    Didn’t Cain leave and find his wife in the land of Nod? Daddy didn’t arrange that marriage.

    Esther volunteered to marry the king to protect her people. Her father didn’t order it.

    Many married people are mentioned in the bible without stating how they came to meet and be married. While the parents would draw up the marriage contract and finalize the settlements, there are indicators that children traditionally had a say as to whom they married.

    While some marriages were arranged without consent of the children, often the girl, this was not common practice. These types of marriages were similar to marriage among royalty, they were marriages of state or business, not necessarily the standard practice.

  • I agree pretty much with your words, but perhaps not with the meaning behind it. We should certainly not try to follow bronze age people in their ideas, we should follow God in what He taught us to do.

    Planning marriages to work like the tiny amount of historical detail in the Bible = following bronze age people in their ideas.
    Living as Jesus explained we should (He never said we should do everything Abraham and Isaac and the rest of the characters in the Bible did) = following God.

  • persephone

    Nauseated, queasy, squicked.

  • persephone

    Von forgets the other part of the marriages: the financial arrangements, bride prices and dowries. The whole idea that children should be rushing into marriage without worrying about how they’re going to support themselves is completely un-biblical.

  • gimpi1

    Thank you for pointing out the distinction, Retha.

    I understand, but I still have a problem with anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, claiming to speak for God. You have your interpretation of what you believe God wants, Mr. Ohlman has his, people who follow Islam have other beliefs, Hindu believers have different ideas, people who follow Buddhist beliefs have their own concepts, you get the idea. No one can rightly claim to speak for God.

    I absolutely respect your right to live as you believe God wants you to. I don’t grant you, Mr Ohlman, or anyone else the right to pass laws telling the rest of us we must live as you think God taught us. It appears some Christians these days want to do that.

    I’m not sure from your statements if you are in that camp or not. If you aren’t, good for you. Live as you believe and I wish you all the best. If you want to use force of law to make those of us who don’t share your beliefs live as though we did, we have a problem. Makes sense?

  • I respect your right to your opinions, but just want to point out to everyone that a certain statement is your opinion, not a conclusion from the facts before it. The statement with before-mentioned facts is

    ” You have your interpretation of what you believe God wants(fact), Mr. Ohlman has his(fact), people who follow Islam have other beliefs(fact)… No one can rightly claim to speak for God. (Opinion.)”

    If different people have different views, it could still be that one of them is totally correct, or that the same thing is described from different angles. (Imagine 2 people with bad eyes looking at a Cola tin. One sees it from the side and see a red rectangle, the other from the top and sees a grey circle. Although the latter comparison goes only so far, incompatible ideas obviously cannot all be right.)

  • gimpi1

    The way I understand it, one can only claim to be objectively right if something can be proved. For example, in science, concepts are tested through experiment, then the process of peer-review and secondary testing to prove the concept holds water. In math, it’s easy to check someone’s work. In religion, it’s tricker.

    With religion, no one can claim to have proof. No one can claim their viewpoint is supported by objective fact. Anyone who does claim that their beliefs, and their beliefs alone stand up to the “objective fact” standard is, in my opinion, both kidding themselves and displaying a bit of arrogance. How can anyone claim to know the mind of God better than anyone else? Do you believe you speak for God?

    Frankly, I don’t really have a problem with all this until those folks who believe they have an inside-track into the mind of God try to pass laws forcing the rest of us to live as they think we should. That is a problem for everyone, not just unbelievers, but believers as well. Remember, if you can use force of law to control the lives of others, someone else can use force of law to control you.

  • Independent Thinker

    This is a super edited version of what Michael Pearl has said about his daughter Rebekah and taken way out of context. Don’t worry I am about to fill in some major blanks.

    Most of this comes from an article on the No Greater Joy Minstries website titled To Betroth or Not To Bethroth? Written by Michael Pearl himself.

    “Rebekah was twenty-six when she married, and she never had a “boy friend”—never shared any kind of emotional or physical relationship with anyone. Her husband need not be concerned that someday a man may walk up to him and say, “Your wife and I used to be very special to one another.” He is her first and only.”

    “As Rebekah’s father, I turned away five or six men before they ever got close to her.”

    If you read the entire text of what Michael Pearl says yes, Rebekah does get to choose her mate however her father ran several potential suitors off before ever giving her the chance to establish a relationship. Also, remember Rebekah is 26 when she final commits and spent all that time before marriage under the rule of her father.

    Michael Pearl goes on in the article to say the following:

    “Most “Christian” young people are “damaged goods.”

    “But in most cases, ideally, the daughter will surrender to her father’s choice.”
    Feel free to read it for yourself he makes it sound like Rebekah has choices but as you read on you come to the conclusion she really doesn’t have as much freedom as you might think.

  • Independent Thinker

    From copyright.gov:

    “How much of someone else’s work can I use without getting permission?
    Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances. See FL 102, Fair Use, and Circular 21, Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.” No Longer Quivering is clearly posting for the purpose of commentary and news reporting thus no link required.

  • Madame

    Thanks for going over there and doing the research. It sounds like Michael Pearl only gave his daughters a say in the final decision so he can tell them “but you chose to marry him” if/when problems arise.

  • Bryony

    Ugh, yeah. He sounds almost…reasonable here. Then again, when contrasted against this piece of work, who *wouldn’t* sound reasonable?

  • Joy

    As long as that single instance agrees with his predetermined opinion of course.

  • Christine

    “In fact, I don’t know of any unGodly marriage in Scripture that he doesn’t reject with this phrase”

    Oh, look. That completely undermined the idea that betrothal is clearly a good idea because it’s what they did in the Bible, so it’s what we’re supposed to do. Maybe, just maybe, if every single marriage in the Bible is done in a certain way, the good and the bad alike, it’s because that’s how marriage worked in that culture. And maybe, just maybe, that was a cultural norm, rather than a religious instruction. The cognitive dissonance required to put that in the article arguing how arranged (forced) marriages are Biblical boggles the mind.