Last week when Vyckie Garrison wrote a series of articles on Let Them Marry patriarch Vaughn Ohlman she suggested that we take a look at his book on young marriage. Until Vyckie started looking at and writing about his now cancelled ‘Get Them Married’ retreat no one here knew just how bizarre Von’s ideas about young marriage were. The name of the book is ‘What are you Doing? A Conversation about Dating and Courtship’ and it was published back in 2011.
For all the quoting we’ve done from the fleet of websites owned and operated by Von we’ve never actually looked at any of his books, He’s written a few. Most are ‘Christian romance. I’m not sure my stomach could handle reading and writing a review of those, but if anyone else wants to read and review for NLQ just shoot me a line at email@example.com and NLQ will get you a copy of whichever one of his romance novels (or any other book) you want to read for review.
After last week Von is permanently nicknamed ‘Craster’s Creep’ in my mind since his advice to marry off daughters as soon as they develop breasts and signs of secondary sexual physical development. ‘Game of Thrones’ Craster married his own daughters once their periods started, bringing to mind that old gross saying that fits both of these guys – ‘Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed’
This is making me feel like I need a shower already. With boiling hot water, a hog bristled scrub brush and a bar of lye soap.
So when this book landed on my doorstep yesterday I didn’t quite know what to expect. I didn’t have high expectations, after all I’ve read (and written) lots of rather awful books through the years, such as L. Anne Carrington’s wrestling romances that are plagiarized partly from others, to a book on King Henry the VIII written with Valley Girl dialogue, to a hideously misspelled book on our early astronauts. This could not be any worse than any of those I figured when I ordered it. I was very sadly mistaken.
I figured it would be like Vaughn’s websites, filled with belabored pedantic word salad insisting you marry off before turning into an ‘old maid’ at twenty. When I started reading it right after it arrived it was even worse than I imagined it might be. The book is written as a dialogue between a cast of characters with such unlikely names as Maydyn, Pater, Isha, Sakal and, my favorite, Jessie DuMonde. Ah, how I miss the Cafe DuMonde in my hometown and all the people watching I’ve done there through the years.
It reads almost like a script, a script rejected by ‘Key and Peele’ or ‘Saturday Night Live’ for utter ridiculousness. The dialogue is very unrealistic in the fact that all of the character voices and inflections are exactly the same. People are not automatons with the exact same speech patterns! There’s a sentence that tells where this conversation is taking place and it’s away way way we go. The book is illustrated with crude pencil drawings with warped size perspective and is very mercifully thin.
The reviews will be done in small sections to examine the more poisonous overarching themes. Spelling, capitalization and punctuation are per the original tome.
Here is Vaughn’s introduction to the book:
There are thousands of Godly young people of both genders who want to get married, are ready to get married, and should be married… Indeed they should have been married long ago…who are not married. Their church, their friends, and their families have all prepared them for marriage, for early marriage, for early, fruitful marriage…and they are not married. There is no persecution, no law, no physical infirmities preventing them from being married…but they are not married. This is not a ‘panic’, it is a crisis.
Worse, we have many of the very best and brightest of our Christian young people, the best taught, from the finest families, and they are already well past the flower of their age; yet they are not married. This is beyond a crisis, it is a catastrophe.
And there you have it, starting out with hyperbole fear-mongering warnings. We know from Mr. Ohlman’s websites that he considers anything above the legal drinking age ‘too old’ and past the expiration date, like a package of cheese slices left to sit too long on the grocer’s cooler shelf.
But is this really the truth? Considering science says that our brains aren’t finished developing until our mid-twenties there’s really not much of a reason to marry before you’re fully mature physically. Why take a chance of stunting normal development and maturity by rushing into a marriage at a young age? One of the biggest indicators of a future divorce is marriage at a very young age. The babies of young mothers suffer from an increased chance of birth injuries and defects. Young marriage is also tied to increased rates of poverty. It seems wiser to finish your growing and maturation, get an education and wait to marry than to saddle yourself with adult responsibilities while still legally a child.One of the biggest reasons I’ve personally observed why those in the more extreme fundamentalist reaches of Christianity do not marry, or marry at what he considers an advanced age is the isolation inherent in the lifestyle. You are homeschooled and the only interaction you might have with anyone outside of your family group is for a few hours weekly at church, where you are under the scrutiny of many critical eyes determined to keep you ‘pure’. That’s enough to prevent much marriage right there. Add in a father like Geoffrey Botkin perhaps, that thinks that no one is possibly good enough for his princess and you have even fewer marriages.
When you keep the flint in one drawer and the steel in another there just isn’t going to be a fire. Proximity to the opposite sex is crucial to creating a couple in most cultures. When you control every moment of every one of your children so harshly there’s never going to be a possibility of a connection deep enough to lead to a serious relationship, much less a marriage.
Let’s face it. Without that essential spark of attraction at best your marriage is going to be a dull joyless union. There’s nothing about any of Von’s advice in this book that allows for personal preferences, chemistry between partners or attraction.
All of this introduction makes me feel so sad for Laura Camp Ohlman, the chosen wife of Vaughn’s son Joshua. This is the very book she read that led her to insist to her father that he pick out her husband for immediate marriage. Can you imagine the fear, the shame and the anxiety of being told all your life that your only goal was to marry and then to be in two unsuccessful courtships? It would be enough to sent you searching for supposed foolproof ways to get married. Poor kid. She’ll never know that crazy feeling of the jolt of electricity or the build up of tension as you navigate your feelings. She’s missed out on the delicious anticipation of wondering when he’s going to kiss her for the first time and waiting by the phone for a call.
Next week: We get to meet some random guy in the park playing with his cell phone and the vaguely Arabic dude who starts questioning him about his goals. Stay tuned. It’s going to be a bumpy disgusting ride through the recesses of Ohlman’s mind.
Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape
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