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The Bondage of Betrothal

by Eric M. Pazdziora

One of the fundamental teachings of the Biblical Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements is the doctrine of “biblical courtship,” or “betrothal.” (My brother suggested the word “casuistries” instead of “teachings,” which is perfect except that I didn’t know it before, either.) This teaching has it that since a father is the head of the family, his children are completely under his authority—even for deciding whom they marry as adults.

Under this system, adult daughters or sons who presume to consider marrying somebody their patriocentric parents don’t approve of may be labeled rebellious against God and His plan for the family. It’s a classic case of bounded choice. Even though the doctrine purports to be motivated by turning fathers’ hearts toward their children, emotional trauma often ensues all around.

This isn’t about minors—I’ve heard this from men and women in their twenties or even older, still bound by parental authoritarianism. It’s a small step from “stay-at-home daughters” to “kept-at-home daughters.”

Let’s ask one simple question: Is that really what the Bible teaches?

The “Joy” and Power of Guilt

by Elizabeth Wyse Cook

by Kiery King

Humble and proud. 
Guilty and righteous. 
Loving and judging. 

They sound like opposites, don’t they?  Maybe that is because they are.  However, during my time with the organization, they often were so mixed that I was a bit confused as to their meaning. 

It was totally unacceptable to be proud, of course.  So we would do various things to make sure we stayed humble.  Sometimes this meant doing things to humble ourselves (menial chores, obeying an authority when we didn’t want to, or asking forgiveness even if we weren’t really wrong).  Sometimes it meant inwardly berating ourselves for our weaknesses and sins.  Sometimes it meant letting someone else berate …er… encourage us.  On the other hand, it could mean flaunting our humility - sharing a story in such a way that everyone listening could see how humbly we had behaved.  But of course, we could never actually claim to be humble either, because that would be pride. 

Mind Renewal

“In their zeal for producing godly offspring, many well-meaning parents insert themselves in their adult childrens lives in ways that are deeply inappropriate and hinder them from growth and maturity. Addressing the effects of this does not mean they are inherently bad parents or that we arent loving or loved. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Healing from over-control and surrendering to the transformation of the Holy Spirit in our lives is crucial to our growth —because it is when we walk in the Spirit that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our parents (or pastors, husband, and friends for that matter) cannot walk in the Spirit for us.The Over-Controlled Adult Child
In this perverse world, it's important for kids to understand their personal boundaries. "It's not okay for someone to touch you there," a parent might say. Teaching a child how to keep her body safe involves understanding what is off-limits to others. "This part belongs to just you," she learns. "It's private and no one else is allowed to look at you there. If someone asks or tries to touch you, you scream as loud as you can and run away."
     Owning and protecting those private places are essential for healthy personhood. Violations are horrific, often causing lifelong pain, injury, and trauma to the body and the heart—as well as legal repercussions for offenders. But we have other areas that need owning and protecting, too. Other parts of us just as private and personal. We can choose, at appropriate times and for legitimate reasons, to allow ourselves to be influenced by safe people, but self-control is important enough to God to be included in Scripture along with love and faith, the fruit of walking in the Spirit. Therefore it should be important to us.


The Fifth Mile

Continued from here, featuring guest contributor Elizabeth Cook.

by Elizabeth Wyse Cook

We are probably all familiar with the “second mile” principle. Jesus, referring to the law that a Roman soldier could require a Jewish man to carry his heavy backpack one mile in any direction, said, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:41 The Jews had no choice but to obey it or face the wrath of the Roman government. If the soldier wanted a rest, the civilian had to carry that pack. And I doubt that all the soldiers were considerate of the direction the civilian was headed or of the load he was carrying for himself.

Roman Soldier B & W Pictures, Images and Photos
image source
I’m sure we have all heard explanations of why Jesus said this. The one I’m most familiar with is that when we are forced to do something we don’t like, we can change our attitude about it by doing more than is required. And we might even get a chance to witness to the “soldier” in the process because he will be so shocked at our choosing to help longer than we have to.

However, what often happened in my experience was that the “second mile” became commonplace. As someone told me, “The second mile is totally expected. We have to go the third, fourth, or even fifth mile” to get approval. As I thought about that, I realized it was true. No longer were we appreciated for doing normal chores. We had to give up our free time to do extra chores. No longer was a met deadline good enough. We now had to meet the deadline even though the necessary materials were delivered late. No longer were we praised for finishing the job. We were expected to finish it in shorter and shorter amounts of time.

The First Step . . . Down

... continued from here.

by Elizabeth Wyse Cook

I was so excited! I was old enough to go to the seminar that had changed my parents’ lives! I was a tad bit nervous too; after all, I was a young teenager and this was a big event with hundreds of people attending. I would be expected to act like an adult. But it sounded like a lot of fun as well.

Wide-eyed, I went with my dad through the line to get my workbook. Then we settled into our seats and listened. To me, the material was all brand new. I listened with all of my being, trying to absorb it all (which is of course impossible to do the first time around). I scribbled furiously, trying to keep up with all the notes. When I got behind, my parents let me look at their books so I could catch up. During the break, my parents and others assured me that with this new workbook, taking the notes was easy; a lot was already filled in for us. Back in “the old days” there was no notebook, only paper.

Puzzlement : Introduction

Hillary's note: Starting today, the next several Tuesdays will feature a guest contributor, Eliza, sharing her experience with a conservative organization prominent within the homeschooling subculture. You may remember Eliza from this article by Sarah Posner.


by Elizabeth Wyse Cook

Iwas bewildered.  A friend of mine, whom I highly respected, was being “sent home”.
     I was hurt.  I was upset.  I just couldn’t understand it.  How could this be happening?  It sure wasn’t what I expected. He worked for a Christian organization that promoted godly living in all areas of life.  He had faithfully performed his duties.  He cared for his co-workers.  He cared for the people he served.  He worked hard.  He lived above reproach.  He was loved by those who interacted with him.  Now he was leaving, and not by his choice. 
     What was his crime?  Had he failed secretly?  Had he neglected a critical duty?  Had he done something inappropriate?  No.  None of those.  
     He had disagreed with the leader. 

The Alluring God

... because sometimes we ~ I ~ need reminding ...

by Hillary McFarland

The Word speaks: Let there be light.
The earth crowns, the will of God who says let there be life, and we crown into light.
     Fresh and new and shy, our baby hands clutch mama-skirts to hide when others look at us. But soon we run, we run around like wild things who worry not what others think; we climb trees while hair frizzes a golden halo and our cheeks blush like apples and our toes peek through sneakers. But we don't mind because we are six or nine and we sing at the top of our lungs that the hills are alive with the sound of music, and they are ...
     Years collect like memories, like photographs; we grow fifteen and shy while hills grow quiet. Hearts blush like maples in fall, but every hair is in place and hands smooth our own skirts and we hide behind trees instead of perching in them.
     We grow old in soul. Melody is memory as feet shuffle dust and we strain to hear and see the One who spoke the dark :: light, who breathed into lungs the light of life. We are tired and hungry; we ache, and our face is etched with the fine tip of years. Our heart is carved up and arms are weary and why do we even try?