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Abusing Abuse? | Guest Post, Part 1

Recently Darcy left some excellent thoughts in a comment and I asked her if she would expand on them in a post. I'm honored that she agreed. 

I cannot tell you how many times someone has told me, "Well, I know plenty of patriarchal families who are wonderful people to be around. Their kids are happy, they have great relationships within the family, they all follow Christ and their love for one another is evident in their lives." Then I am chastised for "lumping" people all together in a group and calling it an "abusive system". Laying aside the doctrinal errors for a moment (those are beyond the scope of this post), I would like to address the two most common critical questions when speaking of spiritual abuse and Patriarchy. One, whether or not speaking against a group/teaching is harmful to those within that group who are getting it right. and, two, is this something we should even concern ourselves about? Or are we "abusing abuse", making a big deal about something that isn't, when there are others out there who are REALLY abused? In essence, does it really matter that much?

Fruits

To the first question I say, good is good and evil is evil. It matters not what "title" or face or movement good and evil are found in. It also matters not that within a group of people who teach and practice the same things there is good and there is evil. Do we stop speaking out against the evil for fear we will make the good look bad? I am sure there were good Pharisees and leaders in Israel in Jesus' time. Yet He still spoke against the evil among them and inherent in their belief system without any disclaimers. Why? Because there was much evil in that group, causing God's children pain and it needed to be rooted out. I highly doubt Jesus was worried about whether or not he would "tarnish" the reputations of those Pharisees who were truly serving God. Truth and goodness speaks for itself.

It is not a strength to deny pain. Nor is it a strength to ignore inner wounds and say "well, my parents had good motives so I won't worry about the outcome and actions caused by those motives." I'm fairly certain the Puritans who killed hundreds of innocent women, the Jesuits who tortured natives "to convert them", the Mormons who practiced blood atonement to save people's souls, and others who have used God's name for horrible things had "good motives". What makes a teaching good or bad? The motives of those who teach it?

Jesus said of false teachers "by their FRUITS you shall know them." Within this movement known as "Patriarchy", the fruits are becoming evident in this generation: broken hearts, severed relationships, children rejecting Jesus, parents rejecting their kids because of differences in beliefs, girls wondering if they're worth anything more than the work they do and the babies they have, God being usurped in the lives of women by men, and the list goes on. But, you say, there is much good also. I ask you, is the good you see a result of the teachings of this movement, or is it a result of following Christ and easily evident in other Christian families who do not ascribe to these teachings? You say you see parents and children with great relationships. I see this too, in every family I know who loves Jesus. I am sure that those who are getting it right will not be harmed by me or anyone else speaking out on the evils in their movement. I do not feel like my Christianity is in jeopardy when people speak out on the ills among Christians. I don't care what name the evil is hiding under, even if it is using the same name I do, it is still evil. My goodness is not threatened by this. Truth cannot be threatened by exposing lies. Righteousness is not hurt by exposing sin. Godliness is only made stronger when the ungodliness is rooted out.

Picture Perfect

People who are critical of my position seem to forget one important thing: in these circles, as well as most circles, things are not always as they seem. A family can look perfect, godly, and wholesome on the outside and still be festering and rotting away on the inside. I remember as a girl wishing I could stand up in church and yell "We're NOT perfect!!!" Everyone thought we were. They thought we had it all together, that we were the epitome of a Godly family. They often asked my parents to teach them how to have a family like ours. My parents loved each other and we children were obedient and respectful. But inside our four walls and behind our closed doors we were as dysfunctional as any family. Not terrible, mind you, but far, far from perfect. My parents fought, I suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, my siblings and I fought constantly, there was much emotional and verbal abuse, fear of not measuring up to standards, pressure to conform, a controlling mother and an emotionally absent father. Acceptance was based on performance and living up to the right standards. Fear, hatred, rebellion, depression, manipulation...these all had strongholds in our "perfect" family. But you'd never know by looking at us. Or even knowing us. Those closest to us never knew. We were very, very good at playing a part. At hiding the ugliness, even from ourselves. And the pressure built in my heart and the hearts of my siblings until we exploded (or imploded), each in our own ways. So do not look at those families you say are "getting it right" and judge them by what you see. I can guarantee there is much pain where you cannot see, for they are human too.

If any of us get anything right in this life, it is because of the grace of Jesus Christ. It is because God is making us into the image of His Son. There is nothing we can do, no formula or teaching we can follow that will ensure we "get it right". There is only the Person and example of Jesus. As the scripture says "Let him who boast, boast in the Lord". Whoever you are, whatever you believe, any good in your life comes only from living Jesus. And the evil? The evil comes from trying to follow and find life in anything else. So I will continue, as the Lord gives me breath, to speak and act against the evils and injustices I see in Christendom, for they are against the heart of Christ.

__________________

Darcy is wife to a good man and mother to three beautiful children. Her passions include music, organic living, coffee, homeschooling, and Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ. Due to being raised in a spiritually abusive church, extreme fundamentalism, and other ills of the Dark Side of the homeschool culture, she is also passionate about freedom, finding healing in Jesus' grace, and leading others to the Healer of hearts and the Restorer of souls. She blogs at Darcy's Heart Stirrings.

11 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this! You are right. We need to fight evil and rejoice in righteousness no matter where it is found. Rather than getting our identity from a certain group of doctrines or from a certain group of people, we need to look at Christ and find our identity in Him. I know I need to look more at Christ. Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. A very helpful post. Thank you.

    And AMEN to what Sharon said!

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  3. Darcy, I like what you said that we are NOT perfect & that our identity is in Christ & not in an image. Thnx for being transparent & thnx Hillary for sharing this with us!

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  4. Good post, Darcy. My family was sooo far from perfect as well. My parents' fault, my dad threatened to kill himself, and my sister always hid under the bed because she had so much pain within...and yet we were said to be perfect, and had to act perfect. I think that was perhaps the hardest part -- that I couldn't feel pain and just be normal, that I always had to hid. As soon as I could drive, I started going to another church for the simple reason that I needed a community where I could be real about my struggles and my pain. I was tired of hiding.

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  5. Thanks for writing this (and probably saving me the trouble of writing it myself, because I've seen that objection so often I would have had to!). It's an excellent rejoinder to an all-too-common canard.

    Ironically, if you look in just about any fundie evangelistic tract, you can find a good answer spelled out quite nicely: "Sincerity isn't enough to save you; it's possible to be sincere and still be sincerely wrong."

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  6. Just read both parts of your post. Wow. I can relate to this. Thank you!

    I know this family who're REALLY hardcore Quiverfull/Patriarchal, and everybody says they're perfect, everybody wants kids who behave like theirs (though perhaps not as many, what work for the elder daughters!), and nobody thinks abuse could possibly be going on...

    It's so hard to tell when someone who is trained to be perfect is hurting emotionally. But I can see it. I've seen fruits of hurt result from their beliefs. Not that they're physically abusive, or anything. It's just, there's serious pain (emotional abuse to some extent) mixed in with the good stuff.

    On the other hand, I know another Quiverfull family, who loves Jesus SO much, you can feel him when you're around them. They've read the Patriarchal literature, but don't go all father=cult leader on it. They choose to follow Jesus over the teachers of stay-at-home-daughterage. Their eldest daughter is even going to college! (And she's read the Botkins!)

    Yeah...So I guess it gets off track when Jesus is not the focus. I know this from experience...Hahaha...

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  7. [from my blog, it fits here] anti-freeze is a poison and numerous people use it and their dogs don't lick the leaking anti-freeze so it's o.k. to leave anti-freeze leaking on the driveway....

    or

    bleach is a poison and all households have it and kids grow up around it so don't worry about locking it up or safety latches or anything, it's only a Few who get into and drink it...

    you know, this is the problem with the whole 'well I know such and such and They are just such a Wonderful Christian family who loves Jesus and while the Cult, obviously is killing hundreds of lives, why there's always that ONE who escapes unscathed...

    so let's keep protecting the Toxins.

    This is why we need to go back to Sound Doctrine, if the tree bears rot,

    uh, it's not the Tree of Life, nor the Book of Life. If rot and decay are the legacy in THOUSANDS of souls,

    one unscathed, does not life bring.

    Just saying...you can pull up a weed, but if you leave half of the root, that weed comes right back up, and chokes out the water and the flowers,

    die.

    Jane

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  8. Thanks sis. I could never put my feelings to words that well. U have a gift . I luv u

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  9. This makes me think of some of my extended family... My uncle is a very controlling, patriarchal man. Everyone else sees this "perfect" family, they have a farm, wear dresses, behave perfectly.

    They don't know about the sexual abuse that went on years ago... may even still be. Idk. They are pretty cut off from everyone now... my uncle doesn't associate with anyone who sees themselves as his equal. :-P I'm not kidding.

    Even now, people who know them slightly look up to them, "They are so godly, so sweet, so kind, so amazing!" They all wear purity rings... the epitome of perfection... until you know the backstory.

    People are so deceived by how things look... Jesus doesn't care one bit what you look like, whether or not you get along all the time, what clothes you wear or music you listen to. He cares if you love and follow Him.

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