by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
Quotes from the book appear in blue text.
Chapter 7 is titled “The Heart: Victim or Perpetrator – Getting Your Heart to Follow You”.
This chapter crystallizes a market-share problem that the Botkin Family hasn’t quite solved yet. The number of people who are willing and able to buy a Christian Patriarchy book is a set, limited market. To get the best returns on the investment in the book, the Botkins need to attract as many sub-divisions of the Christian Patriarchy, Quiverfull and Christian Homeschooling groups as possible. The Botkin Sisters’ first book “So Much More” was published in 2005 through Vision Forum Ministries. That was a great marketing choice since the Botkin Sisters book would not have gotten much traction without sponsorship of a major industry player in CP/QF/HS. At some point after 2005, the Botkins Family spun off from Vision Forum Ministries and started their own site at Western Conservatory which published “It’s Not That Complicated” in 2011.
Where’s all this going?
Well, the Botkin Sisters have to cast as wide a net as possible which leads to the confusion in this chapter. They create an overarching theme that rejects Emotional Purity as taught in “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Josh Harris (which Josh Harris also rejected, interestingly) while interspersing paragraphs that support Emotional Purity. This chapter allows them to sweep in both the pro-emotional purity and anti-emotional purity crowds.
*gasp* I just realized that emotional purity could be shortened into “Emo-Pur”! YES!
Emotional Purity is a false construct because human hearts are grievously sinful to start with.
Perhaps the biggest problem with these analogies is that they rest on the presumption that the heart is naturally chaste, whole, clean, and in the right place to begin with. Most of us have a perception of the female heart as a perfect, glowing white orb, radiant with the light of its own untainted purity until outside forces begin to break in to corrupt, pillage, steal, and vandalize. It starts outs fresh, new, virgin, cellophane-wrapped, but gets dirty and broken when it comes face to face with the realities of life. But this time, it’s (not that) simple.” (pg. 114-115)
- As a child of the ’80s, I can promise you I had NO perception of what the female heart looked like in either the pure or not pure form. At my Catholic school, there was a semi-annual “why you shouldn’t have sex before you married” talk, but that focused on a) teenage pregnancy and STD prevention and b) that God doesn’t want people to have sex before marriage. There was never any implication that having sex prior to marriage would cause you to have permanent damage to your “heart”.
- I tend to be overly concrete in my thinking, but what do the Botkins/Emo-Pur crowd mean by heart? They can’t be describing the actual heart. Do they mean soul? Mind? Emotions? A subset of romantic feelings? I really dislike the term “heart” being used here.
“The heart is no inert, passive, clean slate, an empty page for men to write on. It does not require men to taint its purity. From day one, our hearts start busily writing their own stories (which are fully capable of being R-rated). They’re not still, quiet waters – they gush profusely. They’re not serene fields – they’re factories, furiously generating their own feelings, intents, and desires.
‘Truely,’ said John Calvin, “the human heart is an idol factory.” These little engines are very active, inventing evil, deceiving, murdering, blaspheming, running away from God, and committing adultery continually. We often refer to our hearts as the injured parties, suffering violence from charmers, heartbreakers and insensitive clunks. But this heart is no victim. It’s a perpetrator . (pg. 115)
- I think we’ve jumped out of the frying pan into the fire here. So instead of having some happy little glow worm of happiness purity in our chests, we now have a boiling pit of deceit.
- The other problem I have the “all human hearts are evil” mantra is that it doesn’t really hold on a large scale. If God is the only thing keeping each of us from murdering and committing adultery, then Christians should never murder or commit adultery. Likewise, figuring out which religion is right could be easily solved by tallying the total crime rate committed by believers.
- I was taught the “humans are complicated” mantra of God-human interactions. I believe infants are born sin-free, but with the basic selfishness of all humans. As we grow, we get better at both being good and being evil. The tricky bit is working at becoming better at being good while avoiding evil.
- This chunk confused the hell out of me. Not that sin and grace are at work in people; I can conceptualize that. No, I’m still stuck on what this “heart” is…. A combination of our mind, emotions and soul might work.
- I agree with the first two sentences of this paragraph. The Abrahamic religions made it 2,000 years without obsessing over emotional purity; we are not doing any favors by adding a new sin to the list.
- I agree with parts of the next sentence: there are real moral categories and sins. The list after the dash gets shaky – sins have traditionally been defined as actions taken toward self, towards others or towards God. Out of that list, exactly one – idolatry – has been classified as a sin. Lust, covetousness (which I’m classing as a synonym of envy) and fear are feelings; feelings that can lead to sins, but not actual sins. I’ve got nothing for “vain imaginings”. I don’t know what a “presumptuous” sin is, but it feels redundant on a list of sins.
- I suspect my threshold for deciding that I’ve made an idol out of someone or am thinking lustfully is much higher than the Botkin Sisters are.
Up to this point, the story is coherent; the problem is that the following paragraphs are intermixed in the chapter making the overall story much more muddled.
Emotional Purity is the best thing ever!
- The Botkin Sisters had JUST finished the “our hearts are evil factories!” spiel. This makes the image of people handing out chunks of their soul, mind, hearts seem….dark. “Here, take my inner evil!” *evil cackle*
- Notice how confusing this passage becomes when you hit the “emotional purity is a made-up category” on the facing page.
- This chapter really needed an outside editor.
- Notice the conspicuous lack of actual Bible quotes for this passage.
- Of these, there are pretty good quotes for “Love brethren; don’t covet; don’t lust; have self-control.”
- I can think of a few that mean “Think of what is pure and true”, but not doing that isn’t implied to be a sin.
- “Guard your heart” and “Take every thought captive” is extra-Scriptural additions.
- This paragraph could form an entire blog post of crazy-rebuttals.
- Problem #1: That’s not what a covenant means.
- Both contracts and covenants can be used to deliminate privileges and obligations. The difference is that once one party in a contract breaks the contract, all other parties are free of obligations in the contract. A lease is a standard example of a contract. A tenant agrees to pay rent in exchange for living in an apartment. If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, the landlord is not required to let them live in the apartment because the contract is broken. A covenant is an agreement that is binding on all parties regardless of the actions of the parties within the agreement. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant with mankind where mankind will reproduce, will not eat blood and will not murder while God will not flood the entire Earth again. Because that’s a covenant, God doesn’t get to flood the Earth the first time someone eats blood pudding. (And I’m grateful for that….)
- Problem #2: The Botkin Sisters quoted Ephesians 5:26-27 on page 119 and still managed to get the analogy completely backwards!
- The Church cannot present herself untarnished, unblemished and saved exclusively for Christ because the Church is made up of humans. Only after the cleansing brought by Jesus will the Church be without sin again. That’s Ephesians 5:26-27. I don’t know what the Botkin Sisters were reading instead.
- Problem #3: Covenants and contracts are not retroactive.
- The Botkin Sisters have not made a marriage covenant or contract with anyone and therefore do not have any duty to their future husbands.
- Yes, I know that Proverbs 31:12 states that a good wife will do a husband good all the days of her life. The verse is written in present tense and ends with “all the days of her life”. The most logical conclusion is that she does him good in the present and will do so in the future – not that she was obligated to do him good before she knew him.
At the end, we have a chapter that can appeal to the Emo-Pur folks and be used by the anti-Emo-Pur folks as well. Unfortunately, the net outcome is a confusing mass of contradictions.
Added bonus: I don’t know if this text (FB post? IM?) was included except as a slam against public schooling or against writing skills in general:
Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.
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