Quoting Quiverfull: Practicing For Divorce?

Quoting Quiverfull: Practicing For Divorce? July 7, 2013

by Vaughn Ohlman of Persevero News – Practice For Divorce

Our modern society… including the church, has implemented forms of getting married that are, literally, practice for divorce. Oh, they don’t go by that name, but they follow that pattern, they implement those principles. Practically all modern systems of getting married, be they called ‘dating’ or ‘courtship’ or even ‘betrothal’,  have fundamental principles, never found in Scripture, that lay the emotional and philosophical foundation for divorce.

What are the principles that lead to, or allow for, divorce? Might I suggest there are at least three. Firstly, it is all about me. Divorce doesn’t work if the person doing the divorcing isn’t thinking about themselves. They have to literally think, “I have the power, I have the decision, to make a divorce. Or at least I should. I’m not happy, I want a divorce.”

Secondly we have to believe that our spouse needs to measure up to some standard in order to believe that they don’t measure up to that standard. I have to be happy enough. He has to love me enough. She has to be cute enough… or I’m out of here. Divorce is about me, and them. I want this, they aren’t giving it. I want happiness, they aren’t making me happy.

Thirdly, divorce is about trying again. Whether it is being a bachelor again, or getting married, again, divorce is about ‘another try’; another choice, another person or state.

So, how do our modern principles of getting married work out as practice for divorce? Well, let’s see:

It’s all about me. One of the most certain things in a modern American romance novel, movie, or discussion of marriage, is that it is an unalterable wrong for someone else to pick your spouse. It may, in the right kind of comedy, turn out that the picking ends up working… but only because the person involved ‘falls in love’. The initial picking was obviously wrong.

Post anything about matchmaking or the like on the internet, even among the most conservative of (modern American) young people will be quick to state, “But the young people have to have a choice.” Even if the young person is heartily reformed they will still promote a radically arminian view of their own marriage. Even the most parent honoring young person will still draw the line, without hesitation, at their own spouse.

What of ‘not good enough’? Well isn’t that the point of getting to choose? You get to examine the person; either initially or over time; and decide if they are ‘good enough’. If they’re not… out they go: Stop dating, end the courtship, break off the engagement.

Try, try, again. Why that might be the very definition of dating, and it is pretty common in courtship, too. You try… nope, that doesn’t work… so you try again… nope, still not right. This one lasted longer but, nope…

So when you finally say ‘I do’ or the equivalent  get in the car, go on the honeymoon, and wake up to… what?! All of your training kicks in. This isn’t good enough! He isn’t loving me right! I want to try again…!!

And you know, or you used to know, that you can’t. But the world, the flesh, the devil… and your friends and much of the church now say you can. Try again. He wasn’t right for you. He isn’t pleasing you. You have to do what makes you happy…

… which is almost the exact opposite of what God teaches. He teaches that life isn’t about us; it is about Him. That our job is to do what glorifies Him. Perhaps we have been forcibly inducted into the harem of a pagan king (how much farther from the courtship model could you get?). Well, you might be there for just ‘such a time as this’ and end up saving your whole people. Or you might be a castrated slave in such a court; and end up praying for the return of your people to the land God promised them.

And God doesn’t care about ‘good enough’, he tells you how to cope with the ‘not good’. He specializes in it himself. A non-Christian husband? Obey him all the more scrupulously and without a word, so that you might win him, by your quiet obedience, to Christ [3]. Divorce him? Nope[4]. Oh, and your body belongs to him[5].

And as for ‘trying’. God hates divorce[6], and he doesn’t exactly teach ‘trying’ in the small stuff, either. Let your yes be yes. Do not defraud. Keep your vows.

Godly marriage, like so much of Godly life, is founded on principles in opposition to ‘me’, ‘not good enough’, and ‘try try again’. A Godly marriage is supposed to reflect the marriage of Christ and the Church. The couple is not bound together by twenty-seven indices of compatibility  but by the one flesh relationship. The Godly couple is not drawn together through acts of service and kindness, through expert communication: they are bound in covenant.

Nowhere do we read that Christ sat up in heaven checking out various possibilities for the church until, finally, he found one that He liked. No, we read that He came to get the bride that His Father had chosen for Him.

Still less do we read that the church dated Christ until She felt good about accepting His advances. We read, instead, that He paid the bride price while she was still dead in trespasses and sin, lost in hatred for him.

We do not read that we are in some wimpy ‘engagement’ period; where at any moment we could back out of the marriage and go our own way. We read instead that we are bound in covenant to a covenant keeping God.

There is a saying in sports, the military, and the like, that you need to practice what you will be doing. You cannot practice tennis in order to get good at soccer. Hours of ping pong will not make you good at chess or baseball.

We need to practice what we believe. We need to teach our children when they are young that, just as God the Father picked a bride for Christ, so will their fathers pick a bride for them. That as Christ did not ‘date’ the church, nor will they date their husbands. That as the church was not courted but bounded in covenant, praise God, so will they.

That these things are your hope and prayer, and that they may happen at a young age, and that God will bless them with fruitfulness.

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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  • Anyone get the impression that the patriarchy movement was founded (and “improved”) by people with ridiculously low self-esteem? “I don’t want my potential partners to be allowed to choose someone other than me. I don’t want to be held up to a standard that I might live up to.” This all seems to assume that the person trying to find justification for all these rules believes themselves to be such terrible partner material that no one would ever choose to be with them.

    And, frankly, if their reaction is to go to force and law to get their way rather than simply working on self-improvement to become to sort of person that people want to be around, they’re probably right.

  • teaisbetterthanthis

    I’d rather not give our buddy Vaughn page hits…Is he married? Or is he like the ATI leader who has been creating parenting materials even though he’s never had kids?

    Because this reads like someone who’s read the textbook description of a Godly Marriage and thinks that means he knows everything. Just like college students who’ve taken a semester of psychology and decide that means they can diagnose people with various maladies.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Maybe I’m biased, because I’m divorced, but…Divorce, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. There are many situations where it’s the preferable thing.

    “I’m not happy” may sound shallow; but if you’ve tried to address the problem and there’s no fix, or the other person refuses to work at it, then it’s perfectly fine to go ahead and get out. People deserve to be happy in their marriages.

    And, really? Having standards is bad? No denying there are certainly standards that are self-serving or immature, but that doesn’t automatically throw the entire concept out.

    And lastly, my body belongs to NOBODY but me. Nobody. Telling me otherwise is not going to change my mind, even if you insist that really, your god said it. Especially when you just toss it out as casually as you did here, as if I’m not even supposed to raise an eyebrow at having no autonomy. That’s just sick.

  • Madame

    he’s married and has six children.
    I wonder if his wife was chosen for him.

  • Madame

    Each Vonnie post only gets creepier and scarier. This man doesn’t even believe children may choose a partner!
    But I actually agree on one point with Vonnie. Dating=courting=betrothal. So one lays down few rules while the next lays down 12 inch rules and calls for a chaperone and the last one requires a “divorce” to undo it, all three ARE about getting to know someone, taking some time, and not making a binding commitment until one feels the other person is “right”. All three question compatibility and give both parties time and a chance to opt out if they aren’t sure. All three consider a person free to try again once the commitment is over.

    I could never choose a partner for my children. I guess Vonnie boy would say it’s because I’m a woman. ha.ha.ha

  • Jayn

    I’m convinced that the idea is to keep marriages whole by keeping people too ignorant to realise that things could be better because they have no points of comparison.

  • NeaDods

    Even the most parent honoring young person will still draw the line, without hesitation, at their own spouse

    Funny how those kids want a say in WHO HAS SEX WITH THEM!

  • Joy

    Either way – poor woman. Sure wouldn’t want to be her.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Perhaps we have been forcibly inducted into the harem of a pagan
    king (how much farther from the courtship model could you get?).

    Oh, and your body belongs to him[5].

    We get it, Vaughn, you really, really like rape. You can stop now.

  • Baby_Raptor

    So you’re saying that you agree with him that dating is bad? I’m not following.

    Not that I’m going to jump on you if you DO think that way, I just didn’t get that idea from your paragraph.

  • Baby_Raptor


    Amazing that people would want to decide who they (potentially) spend the rest of their lives with, instead of letting Daddy make every single important decision ever.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You know, I have secret revenge fantasies of men like him waking up one day as a woman, stuck for the rest of their lives as a “lesser being” with no control over themselves, constantly watching men attempt to make all their decisions for them, constantly hearing how they’re inferior and property.

    Because, really, I think that’s the only thing that would wake these assholes up. Sad that it’s impossible.

  • Madame

    No, I don’t agree with him that dating is bad, but I do agree that dating and courtship are not all that different. Both allow for both parties to step out if they don’t feel right about staying together.
    I favor dating for many reasons, one being that parents don’t have to be involved from day one (or at all in many cases)

  • Baby_Raptor

    Gotcha. Thanks for explaining!

  • Trollface McGee

    ” Let your yes be yes. Do not defraud. Keep your vows.”
    Given what fundies use the word “defraud” to mean, that is quite disturbing.

    “He paid the bride price while she was still dead in trespasses and sin, lost in hatred for him.”
    ….and it gets creepier.

    “We need to teach our children when they are young that, just as God the Father picked a bride for Christ, so will their fathers pick a bride for them”
    Those backwards misogynist moooslims, with their barbaric arranged marriages, it’s horrible! We need to ban Sharia law…oh wait.

  • Independent Thinker

    I have always thought as the quiverful movement gets more extreme the idea of polygamy will be introduced into the message. Let’s face it the pool of rich available single fundies is only so big. Almost any fringe religious movement tends to become more extreme over time. The writing is on the wall for this to happen in my book.

  • Nightshade

    But how far from the ‘courtship model’ is being forced into the king’s harem? Either way a woman is being used by a man with or without her consent, her opinion or thoughts on the subject are irrelevant, she is simply told that she must ‘submit.’

  • aim2misbehave

    It’s strange how he never mentions any other reasons for divorce like, oh, child abuse? I’ve encountered a few women, and I’m sure there may be more even on this site, who would have rather stayed and tried to work things out, except that their husbands were hitting their children. In a case like that, divorce might actually be the most selfless act these people can do.

  • Justina

    puke! Vangh smells like a sociopathic serial rapist. Marital rape? check. arranged marriage too? I pity his children and wife

  • gimpi1

    My husband’s parents divorced when things didn’t work out. There was some domestic violence. His father remarried about 7 years later, and stayed with his second wife until her death. His mother remarried about 4 years later, to a man she stayed with until his death. My husband, his mom and dad were just fine.

    My grandparents on my father’s side stayed together through problems, including domestic violence, and raised some very messed-up kids. My aunt, their daughter, told me she never really trusted any man after seeing her parents marriage.

    Divorce can be a good thing, for sure.

    Life is much better now than the “Biblical standard” Mr. Vaughn aspires to. He just gets sicker and sicker. I wonder when he’ll start arguing for making slaves of foreigners or executing people for blasphemy?

  • gimpi1

    I think Mr. Vaughn is an example of the need to become more and more extreme, in the name of holiness. Each time this group stakes out a position, someone seems to come along and push ever further into the hinterlands.

    First, no unchaperoned dating. Then no dating, period. Then arranged marriages. Then forced marriages.

    First no divorce without profound cause. Then no divorce except for adultery or domestic violence. Then no divorce for women, period.

    Think no abortions unless the life of the mother. Then no abortions, period, the mother’s life is in the hands of God. Then no hormonal birth control. Then no barrier-method or surgical birth control. Then no treatment for ectopic pregnancy.

    I don’t know if there’s an end in sight for this need each group has to “one-up” each other in the holiness race, but I think Mr Vaughn is one of the ones that will always be way out in right field. I also notice each of his positions takes more agency from women than men. Coincidence?

  • Baby_Raptor

    He may well already, just not in online articles.

    I’ve seen several other fundamentalist preachers call for “blasphemy laws,” so that one wouldn’t get him too much crap. Slaves still would, though.

  • Your thinking is right on…this is slavery. Imagine a woman who has been told that she has a serious health condition and will be risking her life if she should become pregnant. I can think of a number of health conditions where this would be the case. But she is not allowed to use birth control. She is not allowed to refuse marriage. In the end, she is not allowed to stop the domino effect of male decisions over her that dictate that she must die, or be considered a rebellious, ungodly woman. Sick.