(Editor’s Note: This was originally published on NLQ back around three or four years ago. Sharing again as it seems appropriate in light of our recent discussions about Mary Pride)
A couple months back, I received an email from Mary Pride — apparently, she’s feeling the pressure since Frank Schaeffer mentioned her in his latest book, Sex, Mom & God, and has been talking in various interviews about her role in founding the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movements with her book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality.
If you Google “Mary Pride” — NLQ comes up 4th on the results page — I’m guessing that’s how she ended up emailing me:
Sender’s name : Mary Pride
Referrer : http://nolongerquivering.com/tag/mary-pride/
Dear Vyckie: I thought you might want to take a look at this article on my site:
After our oldest son got sick and nearly died, requiring years on a respirator while we watched over him like hawks, I fell out of touch with a number of things. I was surprised to discover there was a movement calling itself “Quiverfull” and that I was supposed to be its founder. I was ever more surprised to discover weird patriarchal teachings being brought into it. Read the article and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, I have no idea how you will take this. Just wanted you to know that I never encouraged “baby derbies,” men crushing or abusing their wives, daughters becoming “Daddy’s little helpmeet,” or any such thing in my books or writings, then or now.
I’ve seen this article by Mary before — while stating that Dad is to be the “commanding officer” of the home, she nevertheless denies ever teaching patriarchy or that women are to be subservient to their husbands. I do remember reading in one of her books about women being the “despots” in their homes — which, at the time I read it, I never interpreted to contradict the “husbands as head of the home” teaching — I just thought that it meant husbands are the leaders, but in the kitchen, wives get to call the shots (so long as they don’t directly contradict their husbands’ wills).
I actually met Mary Pride in person in 1996. She was keynote speaker at a homeschool convention in Omaha. I went just so I could see her and introduce her to Hazelle, who was about 5 months old at the time — our first “reversal baby” — that is, she was conceived after my (ex)husband had a vasectomy reversal. I had my introductory speech all planned out — I wanted to tell Mary that my baby would not be in existence if it had not been for her two books, The Way Home (TWH) and All The Way Home (ATWH).
Unfortunately, Mary got a bad case of stomach flu — she almost cancelled her speech, but managed to make it through — and then quickly rushed out of the auditorium to the bathroom. I followed her, carrying Hazelle with me. In the bathroom, it was clear that Mary was not feeling well — at all! I almost did the decent thing and left her alone — but I had traveled two hours (and remember, my pregnancy and delivery nearly killed me — even 5 months after, I was barely making it — severe PPD, serious health problems, etc.) — this was my only chance to speak with the woman who had so dramatically changed my life! So I very timidly approached her and held Hazelle up toward her. I told her the baby’s name and said that she was my first reversal baby — that I never would have had her if it hadn’t been for her books.
It was really bad timing . Mary was obviously experiencing great gastric distress — but she smiled politely and said “what a pretty baby” or something similar. After that, it was just too awkward to keep talking due to the pale, pained look on her face — so I left the bathroom. It was disappointing — because I had really built up my expectations. I practically idolized Mary Pride. I kind of felt like a groupie — it was embarrassing how thrilled I was just at the thought of actually being in her presence. My encounter with Mary brought me back down to earth and I realized that she’s really just a normal person — like me — subject to stomach viruses and all that “fun” stuff.
I remember just how badly I really, really wanted Mary to know what a dramatic impact her writings had on my life. Honestly, Mary Pride’s TWH and ATWH had the most life-altering influence on me — second only to Jesus and the bible. It killed me that our conversation had been so brief.
I didn’t get a chance to go into detail — to tell her the whole story about how I’d been convinced that I was not cut out for childbearing and subsequently Warren had a vasectomy to protect my health, sanity, and possibly my life. But her book completely changed my thinking and I had become willing to risk everything in pursuit of godly womanhood and prolific motherhood.
I didn’t get to tell her about the horrific pregnancy and the disastrous near-death delivery — and how I’d come to understand that I had suffered so greatly because my decision to trust the Lord with my reproductive life was so consequential as to put me on Satan’s radar: the devil knew I was entirely serious about my walk with God — and he was shaking in his boots … thus his evil, malicious attack on me!!
I regretted that I didn’t get Hazelle close enough to Mary (fear of catching her flu bug — my health was already so fragile, I didn’t want to risk it) so that she could see what an absolutely perfect, precious, wonderful baby Hazelle had turned out to be. No doubt, the Lord had super special plans for Hazelle — plans which included inflicting serious damage on the kingdom of darkness — plans which would have been thwarted had I not read Mary Pride’s books and took her words to heart.
I had all these grand thoughts and extreme emotions all bottled up inside me — things which I had been “pondering in my heart” throughout the pregnancy and up to that moment had shared with no-one — but I had determined to pour it all out to Mary because I knew that she, of all people, would understand and share my joy and enthusiasm!!
But alas – I didn’t get to say even a 1/10 of what I wanted to say — and I’m sure that I didn’t make any impression on Mary Pride at all.
So now — she writes to me. For two months, I’ve let Mary’s email sit unanswered in my inbox. Just thinking about it has been too triggering for me — so I’ve been waiting for strength and also for the perfect response to pop into my brain. (LOL — I’m obviously still not free of my tendency toward wishful thinking.)
The consequences of Mary Pride’s influence have not been nearly so tragic for me (I do not regret my 4 youngest children who were conceived as a result of reading her book) — but it honestly makes me angry when these Quiverfull/patriarchy teachers and leaders are profiting from the sales of their materials — but when lives are messed up and kids are seriously injured and even killed — they’re not willing to own up to the responsibility that their influence warrants.
I do appreciate Mary’s strong condemnation of the twisted over-emphasis on father/daughter relationships which has become such a huge and disturbing part of the present-day patriarchy movement. She’s still promoting “soft-patriarchy” in insisting that Dad is the “commanding officer” — but she definitely distances herself from the absolute subjugation of women that we find in Me? Obey Him? or Created To Be His Help Meet.
Here are just a few examples from members of No Longer Quivering of the impact on their lives which Mary Pride says she could never have foreseen:
I was pregnant with my first child when Anne, a Christian friend I very much admired, loaned me her well-thumbed copy of Mary Pride’s The Way Home. Anne had just had her fourth baby in as many years. Her offering the book was in response to my naively asking whether she planned to have more children and so close together. Little did I know I had just kicked Anne’s contraception hobby horse squarely in its sensitive parts.
Somewhat skeptically, I took The Way Home and began to read. Almost immediately I felt I was holding something potentially life changing in my hands. I finished it in one sitting. Reading The Way Home was for me like being struck by a bolt of lightning. I already loved Jesus more than my own life. Now here was someone explaining that submitting to my husband, trusting God to bring all the babies he wanted us to have, and educating those little blessings at home myself was what God really wanted of me as a woman who claimed to be one of his faithful followers. Mary Pride opened my eyes: if I wanted to please God and raise godly kids – and I surely did – the way was now crystal clear.
That book, and it’s sequel All the Way Home, transformed my life, my husband’s life and were the greatest influences on our parenting of our children at least in the early years. They raised my understanding of obedience to God’s revealed will to a whole new level. They opened the door for me to accept the teachings of Nancy Campbell, Jonathan Lindvall, Michael and Debi Pearl, Doug Phillips, and others preaching messages about the inerrancy of Scripture, wifely submission, extreme sheltering, physical disciple for children, and the ‘right’ way to raise godly kids in a hostile and ungodly world.
I don’t blame Mary Pride for the mess that ensued in my family – I came to her first book with baggage that made me susceptible to its extremist messages – but I don’t believe I misread its intent either. Dozens of my friends and thousands of families worldwide also made radical changes in their thinking and practice, and attributed those to Mary Pride and The Way Home. That it was a book that began a movement cannot, in my view, be denied. Jane Douglas, All The Way Out
I devoured both books while nursing my first baby. I came away feeling inspired in many realms of family life, from being the best “home executive” I could be by “professionalizing” my cleaning routine, to starting up a cottage industry, to making sure my kids had Greek alphabet cards to enable them to read the New Testament in it original language. Of course I understood the evils of “christian” youth groups and sunday school and embraced her idea of family-integrated worship, understanding it to be the “best” way to ensure a successful transfer of my spiritual priorities and beliefs to my children.
The main idea that stuck with me after reading Pride’s books however, (in addition to the absolute evil of anything associated with “feminism”) was what she refers to as the ” Three B’s”. The Three B’s are (according to Pride) the WORST three inventions of the 20th century and are as follows: 1. Birth Control, 2. Bottles, and 3. Babysitters. Most of the evils of society are because women have chosen to adopt one or all of the aforementioned “conveniences”, hence abandoning their god-given role. Using these devices lands you in the category of “feminist” and no god-fearing lady would want that title since Feminists (as described in the first chapter of “The Way Home”) are pagan liberals who strip down and beat their bare chests while dancing (on top of church pews) to crazed chants of “self worship”!
Mary was influential in my having 12 children and homeschooling. HOWEVER, I do not hold her responsible for the stupid way it has been taken to extremes, and her own situation bears out that neither does she. Her daughters attended schools of higher education and while she promoted home as the main arena for women’s activities, she also made the point in her books that she encouraged enterprise and an entrepreneurial spirit for both boys and girls, and not merely of the soap making variety either. It is really easy to play the victim and blame others for whatever mess we find ourselves in, but no one forced us to follow anything she said and her example and teaching is far less than those being put forward by Vision Forum and their ilk.
– CherylAnn Hannah
The Way Home and All the Way Home deeply affected both myself and my friends, with regard to our entrance into the Quiver Full Lifestyle. My husband, a minister, turned out to have a major mental illness (later diagnosed, after a complete break-down and hospitalization). He latched right on to the black-and-white thinking that was rampant in Mary Pride’s work. Her words supported my husband’s patriarchal views.
He continued to not allow me to have a say in whether or not we would have another baby, to the detriment of my body and health (since my fertility would come back immediately, despite round-the-clock breastfeeding), until I finally began to wake up and eventually left the marriage as his mental health continued to decline while his abusive behavior continued to escalate.
I now am the sole supporter of a “quiverfull” of children. Thanks, Mary Pride, Doug Phillips, Douglas Wilson, Mike and Debi Pearl, and all of the others who helped me, a young mom who was working so hard to be a godly woman and bring God glory, for helping me to not be able to recognize abuse for what it was, to not be able to recognize unhealthy relationship patterns for what they were, and to NOT be able to realize that the slow destruction of my self was NOT what God ever intended for a woman.
I am dumbfounded that Mary Pride now denies her culpability in founding the Quiverfull movement. I mean, at least she’s not laughing about it like Michael Pearl and his chickens ~ but I don’t think it’s much better to say, “Huh? Who, me?”