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When You Love a Daughter of Patriarchy

R ecently Lewis left this comment on Irony and a Broken Heart:
There is much I could say.
My former bride-to-be was heavily indoctrinated into the notion of "I don't give my heart away" and her father being her protector. She was/is in her mid 20s. The result was  a woman morbidly afraid of her own shadow emotionally, a woman who was continually laden with guilt about expressions of affection for me.


Her father is a very troubled man. What's he done with her, and her siblings, hasn't been done to look out for their best interests (as I believe it is done, perhaps misguidedly, in the case of many Christian parents). It was done to make up for his own personal deficiencies by exercising power over them.


That's the problem with this type of formulaic belief. There are no contingencies for situations where no father is availed or the father is lacking as a man of moral character. As one commenter noted, when faced with this kind of formula flaw, most who follow these formulas turn to the people who teach them so heartily to find their answers and don't rely on a personal understanding of the scriptures as revealed by the Holy Spirit, making the formula and those teaching it into idols.


I write from what is still very deep pain, so I apologize if it comes across as raw. My encounter with this belief has been the most hurtful and bizarre experience of my life.
I've received many notes from those who love the daughters of patriarchy ~ hopeful young men, heartbroken new husbands, aunts, mothers-in-law, concerned friends.* "How can I help my wife heal and grow?" writes Jeff. "We've been married seven months and I am just beginning to see how deep are the roots of her upbringing." Barbara worries about her niece: "She loves the Lord but every time He speaks to her, her father overrules it. She feels called to work in an orphanage but her dad says she shouldn't "abandon" her family. She is 25. How can I encourage her?" 

For those of you with loved ones entrenched within the Christian patriarchy movement, understand that this is particularly challenging because to God-fearing Christians, many elements of patriarchy look and sound biblically correct. And for those raised with these teachings, being "transformed by the renewing of your mind" is a difficult and lengthy process. So how can you help? Here are some practical suggestions for friends, family, husbands, and hopeful husbands-to-be of quivering daughters.

Pray.
I know that you continue to pray faithfully for the one you love. Don't give up. It's important to remember that as much as you love her, your heavenly Father loves her infinitely more. Trust Him with her, and do not lose heart. You are not in her life by accident, and while I don't know His exact purposes, this is your ministry.  This is true even if you are prevented from seeing her, talking to her, or sharing her life. Remember that "...if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God." (Acts 5)

There is a time to be silent.
Remember that your friend or beloved likely grew up, for all practical purposes, with her parents' voices louder in her life than God's. To heal, she needs to learn to hear the still small voice of the Lord. She needs to understand the Holy Spirit's guidance in her life. You can help. Every chance you get, point her to the Lord. He wants His voice known by her. Sometimes this might mean withholding your own, letting her hear from Him what is true. You are supporting her as she builds, or rebuilds, direct intimacy with her Maker. With love for Him and love for her, don't stand between her and Christ but be the one who hands her to Him, day after day.

Be safe.
Quivering daughters need at least one person in their life whom they can implicitly trust. Be a safe haven where she can finally, maybe for the first time in her life, figure out who she is, what she likes, what she needs. She needs to trust that you won't criticize her feelings, her thoughts, her ideas. Or blackmail her emotionally. Or love her only when she behaves, when she does what you want. She needs to know that even when she makes mistakes and sins against you, that you will love her and offer her the grace of Christ, all while helping her grow strong and become more like Him.

Trust God.
Don't be alarmed if your loved one questions her faith and what, if anything, she wants to do with Christianity. Some women feel as though God (or the Bible) is the bat used to beat them all their lives, and it can be very hard to trust Him after that ~ or to even like Him for that matter. Trust that God wants to be known by her. Healing takes time and patience. Let your wife or friend see your own faith, and don't push her towards religion. Let Him woo her in His timing, and in the meantime, be His hands, His heart.

Let her say no.
Many of our very first conversations revolve around no. Toddlers shriek "NO!" and parents sternly reply, "Don't tell me no!" But "no" is a necessary part of life. It helps establish limits that are healthy and this requires practice. Be a safe place to practice. Within patriarchy, most daughters learn that they are there for the psychological and emotional and physical use of others. Quiverfull daughters can feel like they are here only for religious reasons. When families abuse Jesus' teachings of service and run rampant with another's entire personhood, sometimes this requires us to go back to the basics. And this can mean a very firm, appropriate no. Let her have opinions, likes and dislikes, tastes, and preferences. Maybe she doesn't know what she likes. It might take trial and error to reach a healthy place, but if you are like our Rock, our Jesus who is steady, forgiving, and faithful, she will blossom.

Listen.
If she needs to tell you the same story 150 times, listen patiently 150 times.  Repetition is a vital part of healing. Respond to her with kindness. Let her know that she is valuable to you by being interested in what she says. This teaches her that she is important to you. It's likely that she has a lot of pain crammed away in  her heart, and if she gives you a little peek, even the same one over and over, view this as an honor. In time she will give you more and more. If she comes from a family where her thoughts and feelings were discouraged or many people clamored for attention, she needs to feel important to you, because in this way she will begin to see how important she is to God. And you can do this by being there for her and listening ~ ear to ear, heart to heart.

There is a time to speak.
Just as listening and repetition are important, so is knowing what and when to speak. If she says "Can you believe we did that in my family!" two hundred times, then two hundred times shake your head in disbelief and give your  version of, "Oh my goodness, sweetheart! That is terrible. I am so sorry that happened to you." This is validation which enables others take huge leaps in recovery. 
     Knowing when to speak "a word in season to him who is weary" helps breathe life to the soul. However, it's a delicate balance  knowing what and when to share what is on your heart.  Let the Spirit lead you. It can sometimes push others away to hear that what they believe is wrong. Let God stir in their hearts, and if they ask you, share what you believe. But to repeatedly tell a daughter that she is captive, that her family is wrong  and that she needs to do _____ can sometimes backfire. Many are conditioned to defend their families at all costs and to expect "persecution" from those who aren't likeminded. This is why it's so important to be a safe person. Let the Holy Spirit do His work in her life, and reflect His work in your own.

Let her be free.
Cultivate a Christ-like environment, whether it is as a friend, as a relative, or in your own home as husband to her, your wife. Show her the freedom that Christ has shown to you by giving her room to breathe. Many don't understand what this means and object, thinking it gives license to sin. But Jesus came to set the captives free. What about those who are captive emotionally? Mentally? It's not just about shackles of steel but shackles of heart and mind and soul. Encourage her to discover, perhaps for the first time, who He made her to be.

Don't rush her.
Many factors go into the healing process. It can be a hard, long road, but you are privileged to walk on it  with her in whatever capacity God has allowed. I can't promise that things will turn out the way you hope, but the love you have for your friend is given by God. Honor Him with your love by demonstrating the fruits of love. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Because of this love, don't tell her to "move on" or accuse her of not forgiving. She may be trying to sort through many things. Perhaps she has yet to forgive. Perhaps she needs to make things right. But be a safe person so that as she works through the pain, she can come to you for encouragement and for a shoulder to cry on.
_______________________

Please pray for Lewis and others like him. This is a challenging journey of faith for all involved, and sometimes when we feel desperate on behalf of others we try to hurry the process the only ways we know how. But try to let God do what He came to do: to redeem, to heal, and to restore. Like the child's song says, "He's got the whole world in His hands." And this includes the heart of the one you love.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
      So are My ways higher than your ways,
      And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

If you are a quivering daughter, how have others in your life helped you? Or how have they hurt? You can be anonymous if you like.

*Identifying details have been changed for privacy.

57 comments:

  1. You have put this SO well, Hillary! Yes, unconditional love in all its forms is what is needed most.

    People have helped me in all those ways. I am so grateful!

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  2. This is beautiful and right on. I'm going to send this link to a friend of mine. He was interested in a girl from an extremely patriocentric family and church. I sat down with him one night and explained the challenges to loving a woman from this background. He was amazed. He had no idea. After we talked he told me if he went further in the relationship, he would send her to me to talk to. :) But he is the one who needs the advice, maybe more than she does.

    The biggest thing my husband did for me (and my family wasn't extreme) was to love me regardless of my performance. He just loved ME. I didn't have to make him love and accept me. I didn't have to have the "right" clothes, actions, friends, music, church, whatever. That has freed me more than anything he or anyone else could have done.

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  3. I will echo that unconditional love is the most important gift you can give a young woman who has never experienced that. The other most important thing for me was to realize that it was perfectly okay for me to make my own decisions and at first that was hard and scary. Having people in my life who trusted that I was making the best decisions for myself was very empowering. The girls in my family were not allowed to do anything without permission, and I am sure that this is fairly typical in girls who have grown up in families like this.

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  4. Even though I wasn't raised in a "quiverful" family, there were many elements of the same sort of cultic ideas practiced in family and church . . . much control, much male authority, much disregard for people's feelings, little understanding of grace and on and on.

    When I entered counseling, one of the first things the counselor did that shocked me was to ask me, "May I share what I am thinking with you?" I was STUNNED. I wasn't used to anyone caring whether I wanted to hear what they were going to say or not! That was like a door opening for me. I have used that as a respectful way of relating even with my children, and am always amazed how much more open they are to me when I show them that respect. Just thought I'd throw that out there for anyone working with people trying to recover from an abusive/cultic/controling life-style. It might be helpful to others perhaps.

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  5. Anonymous, I totally agree! That kind of wording and attitude opened a whole lot of doors for people to speak into my life than any amount of regular talking or lecturing would have. My counselors used that a lot with me too. Always asking if I would like to or was comfortable with or would I prefer, etc. It really helped!

    Now to remember to use that with others. :-P I'm learning, but slowly.

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  6. Wow ~ what great thoughts here!

    Sharon, thanks for being such a faithful supporter. :-) {{hugs}}

    Darcy, your husband sounds like mine. :-) You mean love me ~ just because I exist?? I don't have to do anything? Beautiful. And believe me...loving someone who loves you like that is the best.thing.ever.

    Kateri ~ ahh! Decision making! It is HUGE to be trusted to make decisions and yet for me, it took a long time to not be so indecisive. I still freeze up sometimes when faced with certain things, especially when I'm tired. And you're right about permissions.

    Anon...thank you for this. I am reminded of a similar situation I recently noticed from a friend...she asked a child, "Is it okay if I give you a hug and kiss?" Even though he was 6 or 7, the fact that she respected his space and boundary meant a lot to him. Surely he was used to being snatched and squeezed by everyone. I think teaching these principles early are important...thanks for the reminder!

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  7. Thank you for the prayers.

    My story doesn't have a happy ending. Just a few weeks back, my bride-to-be married another man - a man she had passed over before I ever came along, saying of him many times, "No way. Uh uh. Never. The thought of a future with him made me sick."

    What he is is the opposite of me, and ultimately, when she couldn't have what her heart truly wanted, she settled for what it could have, and she chose the path of least resistance.

    I'm a fighter by nature. Not a fighter as in "violent", but as in fighting for what's right. I was raised in a spiritually and emotionally healthy home, pointed toward Christ in all things, taught to seek that which is right, measure it by God's word, and choose it even at the expense of all else. Her world had never seen anyone quite like me - a person who was decisive based on right and wrong and not according to a formulaic process. From the beginning, she always told me that this "fire" in me was the "quality" that she most loved about me and made me attractive to her, but in the end, it's what those manipulating her used against me.

    If there was a mistake I made, it was in expecting more from her than she was capable of. I always tried to be patient, knowing the emotional and spiritual dysfunction of her world, but sometimes failed. In my defense, I didn't know how to deal with the moral ambiguity I witnessed, with people, including her, who would lie, repeatedly, and think it was ok and "godly" simply because it benefitted "the family", with people who constantly searched for and used emotional leverage on each other for personal benefit. Coming from the world I do, I saw it as emotionally evil. I responded to it as such.

    With her father and his Patriarchal cohorts abusively manipulating her, as well as trying to create turmoil in my professional and ministry environments, and some other events that took place in the final days of our relationship, I was left in the position of - be patient and lose her, or, fight, and probably lose her. I fought. They scuttled her away to some like-minded people in another state who spent a few weeks reindoctrinating her and undoing all I'd encouraged within her (she had come a LONG way), and she emerged from her sabbatical as a mind-numbed robot, spouting all of the cliches associated with the family's beliefs, and calling our relationship "of the flesh" and "an emotional thing."

    I still love her. I always will. I made a commitment. I'd be lying if I told you that a part of me wasn't angry with her. I'm more angry with those who manipulated her, but disappointed in her. It's what I feel and I can't change it. Loving her has cost me a fortune - emotionally, mentally, materially - because of the poor choices her and those around her made. I realize that her choices were largely made for her. One of her sisters has admitted as much. Her grandfather, and others, have, in unrepentant fashion, admitted to their manipulation of her. I haven't really been allowed to speak with her, and when I have, only with a monitor on the line with her.

    I'll continue in another post...

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  8. It's just extremely and painfully difficult for me to see these people as "good" people, as brothers and sisters in Christ, when I see this kind of emotional havoc and I have lived in the debris field of it for two years now.

    She had come so far, even flying here (across the continent) by herself to spend a few weeks with me and my family and get to know my world better. She did this despite her father's abusive protests. I made it clear to all in my world (they're all aware of the dysfunction) to not bring up "home" in conversation with her. If she brought it up, that was another thing, but I wanted her to leave home at home and see what normal was. It was, beyond question, the happiest time of my life. While she was here, she was happy, confident, vibrant, whole. She's always been safe with me, and told me several times while here how safe she felt. Her regression began on the trip to the airport to send her back home. I could literally see her mind taking her back there, hear her words becoming less confident, hear her emotional clock ticking in the wrong direction.

    My last physical glimpse of her was as she walked toward security, blew a kiss toward me, and mouthed the words "I love you".

    From that moment, I've known little beyond pain. In the following weeks, they made her life a living hell, I begged her to come back here to escape it, but the guilt they threw on her was too powerful.

    As I said, I still love her, but beyond that, I'm not sure what to feel about her. She didn't have to "win" me. She didn't have to impress me. I simply loved her, no matter what. I saw the baggage and aberrations at the start, and fell in love with her despite the baggage. She's made permanent choices, leaving God out of the process, that we both now have to live with.

    There's so much more, but I've already thrown out a lot for anyone to digest. God is God, and regardless of what people choose, I know that He loves me and doesn't require me to earn His love. I pray that someday she'll come to that same understanding about Him and no longer project her misunderstanding of His love into her human relationships. I fear that God is more of an emotional drug and escape in her life than a thriving relationship.

    I appreciate the efforts you're making through this site. They're vital. Thank you again for the prayers. She and I both need them.

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  9. Oh man. I believe it was Chesterton in Orthodoxy who said that Christianity the the one religion that assumes the fallibility of man. And with that assumption comes many teachings in Scripture that point away from following certain individuals and instead seek Christ and His heart. This is yet another painful example of where Christ has been replaced with someone else to much pain and detriment.

    ~Luke

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  10. Lewis, I am so, so sorry! No one should have to go through that kind of pain. From another QD, thank you for loving her. Your love may be the memory that will give her hope of having a real relationship with God someday. I know that God never wastes suffering. But that doesn't mean I understand why He allowed you to suffer so much.

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is so nice to know that there are men who are willing to rescue.

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  11. Lewis you are my hero & what a heart! You are in my prayers!

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  12. Hi Lewis,

    Your story took me back to a very painful time in my life involving a girl I thought I was going to marry and a controlling father. While the details a somewhat different, the upshot is the same. She didn't know her own heart and I chose to love her in spite of glaring evidence that this was a union that just shouldn't happen. Similarly to your situation, she married another man not very long after she ended our engagement.

    While I don't recommend anyone do this, I sang at this girl's wedding, experiencing a rather embarassing gaffe on the part of the pastor (he accidentally used my name instead of the groom's. D'Ohhh!!!!) I remember though, the freeing feeling I experienced as I was driving away, knowing that this was the last nail in the coffin of that unhealthy relationship. I was on my way to visit the woman who is now my wife and it felt good to have that relationship behind me. I wasn't angry about the past, just relieved that it was over.

    I know that this experience has been extremely painful, that you feel like you were cheated out of the love and companionship this girl might have offered you. As to your struggle about considering this bunch as brothers in Christ.. I wouldn't. People who are holding to a false pseudo-religiosity are not akin to people who are following Christ. The fruit does tend to identify the tree. Seems to me I read that somewhere once... As hard as this experience has been, thank God you didn't marry this girl only to find her heart turned away from you after the fact.

    If I were giving a younger brother some marital advice, I would say that you cannot marry a person who is bound in fundamentally unhealthy relationships and expect her to be able to develop a healthy relationship with you. She doesn't have the tools to do it. She would have needed adequate time to break free of the unhealthy stuff, figure out what healthy and normal is and then live in that for awhile before she would be ready to function in a healthy marriage.

    I'm sorry man, there just aren't the words to describe what a guy goes through in this kind of situation (sorry ladies... I know this is Quivering Daughters... the sons just need to commiserate briefly. Hope you don't mind!). I think that you ultimately come away from this experience wiser for the wear and with a very keen sense of the kind of damage that extreme patriarchy can do. For whatever it's worth, many of those who have suffered that damage are now speaking out and patriarchy has a lot to answer for these days.

    Blessings,

    Jim K.

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  13. Thank you for putting into words what many of us are seeking to do with, for, and alongside QD's. The further I go, the more I meet and become connected with. My whole family is involved in the lives of several women who are walking through what is described on this website. My heart goes out to Lewis - my son is also in that vulnerable place with a precious girl he loves. May the healing flow through the words shared on this and many other sites. May we all be on the healing team with the Lord Jesus Christ, loving each other along this journey!!

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  14. Jim K., bless you. Please never apologize. Although I write with women in mind, I know how devastating these things are on men and I wish someone *hint* would pick up the torch. (That's a general hint, not necessarily directed at you Jim.)

    Lewis, I've been praying for you. My heart aches at your troubles. I am so sorry this happened, and as Sharon said, while God wastes no suffering sometimes I feel helpless not being able to explain why some things happen. May He comfort your heart.

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  15. I'm confused...how is it "abusive" for a father to want to protect his daughter's heart (and body?) until marriage? I was abused.

    I was abused by a society that said no one was responsible for protecting me and that it was normal to "give" whatever of myself I wanted to whomever I wanted.

    I wish a thousand times over (and still deal with anger) that my father had cherished me enough to protect me. My heart, my body, all of me. To exercise the wisdom of a loving father who knew better than I did.

    This post and almost every one I've read here doesn't make a clear distinction between truly abusive homes (which I am well familiar) and loving ones with parents who believe the Bible says what it means.

    Abuse needs to be dealt with. But what a tragic, abusive thing to do to make every girl who reads this blog feel she belongs to a cult if she has loving parents who happen to be more conservative than the author deems appropriate.

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  16. {{Hugs Anonymous}} I am so sorry that you experienced abuse throughout your life. That is really tragic, and I pray that the Lord continues to draw you close to Him and comfort you. It's painful, isn't it? Many of those who read this blog have felt abuse of a different kind, one that isn't understood very well or talked about much. Thankfully there are many resources for things like physical and sexual abuse. It breaks my heart that so many have experienced those in their lives. Unfortunately things like spiritual and emotional abuse aren't as well-known and it can be really difficult to understand, sometimes, because it can be very subtle. The Lord has called me to offer what I can, little and frail as it may be, to those whom He wills. I know that there might be readers of this blog who don't agree, don't understand, and maybe even get upset. I recognize that these are controversial issues. For those readers, please understand that your thoughts and opinions and ideas are valuable and maybe I will learn in time how to write things in a way that applies to more people. For now, it seems that God has streamlined my audience for me and I am very blessed to try to communicate His heart for those who have been hurt within certain aspects of the Christian family. I wish I could do better and hope that everyday I am more like Christ. He continues to refine me, for which I am grateful. Thank you for sharing your impressions about how Quivering Daughters affects you. I am open to suggestions and feedback, both from yourself and anyone else who might be reading. For the record, I am so glad that there are families who desire to protect their daughters...this is a blessing! I hope that for those who have experienced heartache in this area that you would support their efforts to find healing through the grace of God, whether it is here or elsewhere. I wrote a three part series about traits of cultic families, and unfortunately some do exhibit those traits. I don't believe that I've stated anywhere that my intention is to make every girl who reads this blog feel like she belongs to a cult, nor is that my heart or my belief. It's certainly not a consistent focus. But just because it isn't true for everyone, should it not be equally as valid for those for whom it is true? I am really glad that you have been able to avoid these kinds of abuses because they are really challenging to overcome. Some of the girls who write say that it feels as though they've been raped by God. It takes a long, long time to recover from that. Praise the Lord that you have escaped this!! Hugs and blessings to you, my friend!

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  17. beautiful post and right on!

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  18. Anonymous,

    Every extreme has its mirror image and somewhere in the middle is the healthy balance. Those who have experienced a home characterized by extreme control long for a taste of freedom. Those who experienced a home characterized by indifference and a lack of reasonable protection long for loving, protective guidance. Those fortunate enough to live in the healthy balance often have difficulty visualizing the reality of either extreme because those who live in the extremes often suffer in silence and anonymity.

    The extremes do not negate the healthy balance. Just because one family operates in a cultic fashion in an effort to protect their daughters doesn't mean that every father seeking to guard his daughter is a Jim Jones. The thing is that certain terminology (like "guarding the heart", "emotional purity" and such) can become loaded with secondary meanings that can cause a person dominated by cultish behavior to be very skittish about it. I think it was Mark Twain who said that a cat who sits on a hot stove lid won't ever sit on a hot stove lid again, but he probably won't sit on a cold stove lid either. Legitimate, concerned parental protection crosses the line into cultic or at least abusive/controlling behavior when it becomes a self-serving ploy to maintain an image or when authority becomes its own end.

    As you said, to have a father who cares enough to see to the welfare of his daughter is a precious thing. My prayer for the ladies who have had either overbearing, stifling, abusive fathers as well as those who have had indifferent fathers is that the Lord showers His tenderness and love upon them. I pray that He brings people into their lives who will meet needs that were not met. Maybe it's encouragement. Maybe it's guidance. Maybe it's protection or some kind of assistance. Maybe it's just a kind word in season or a kind act to let them know that they are of value.

    Blessings,

    Jim K.

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  19. Well said, both of you (blog hostess and Jim K). It seems to me that many of these spiritually abusive homes can happen because people start out sincerely trying to correct a serious lack of protectiveness. But the opposite of overprotective control isn't indifference or abandonment-- it's loving care that protects without controlling.

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  20. This is a great post, and something that needs explored more.

    Much of the healing I have experienced from the past has happened within the last 3 years.

    -It has only happened once I recognized and refused to agree with my thought patterns/old entrenched beliefs

    -I had friends who boldly pointed out and aggressively refused to let me continue to spout those things.

    -I saw a Christian counselor who was immensely helpful at pointing out lies entrenched in my thoughts that were anti-grace.

    - Reading a book about ministry to Muslim women. Their culture is shame and fear based, also. I prayed hard to surrender every fear and feeling of shame to Jesus and then to "turn from Satan's counterfeit and to give full attention and affection to the truth of Jesus' supremacy".

    I can honestly say He has brought me so far! Thank you so much for this blog; it encourages me every day!

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  21. Dear Lewis,

    I am the mom of five sons and one daughter, three of them married and a 4th soon to be. We began praying for and with all of them when they were tiny and one of our requests of the Lord was that He would provide godly life partners for each of them. We weren’t so concerned that their future spouses had big bank rolls or had been homeschooled or had “never been kissed” or that they could answer some random list of 165 questions but rather that they loved the Lord, respected His Word, and that they loved, truly loved, our son or daughter as the wonderful and awesome individuals they are. God has so graciously answered those prayers.
    I share this with you to let you and any other godly young men who are reading here know that there are thousands more parents just like this praying for someone like you, someone who will bring out the very best in their daughter, someone who will appreciate them for the unique and talented and gifted young women they are and who will long for them to grow in grace alongside them as equals. Please hang in there and trust that as painful as these circumstances are, the Lord has placed them in your path not only for your edification and for the grow of others but, ultimately, for His glory alone.

    {{{{{}}}}}to you from a mom

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  22. Anonynous,

    I, too, am sorry that you have experienced so much abuse in your life. I know that healing from it can be long and slow and hard and that having our own children brings it all back to us. We want to do it so much better than our parents, especially if there has been abuse or even neglect.

    But I would encourage you as a mom to set aside those things from your own past that are painful and look not at what you can do that is the opposite of your own experience, but rather, to the Scriptures and what they contain for all life and godliness. So much of what is being promoted within this patriocentric culture is man centered and parent directed and tears down relationships with our precious children instead of building us all up as brothers and sisters in
    Christ. Healthy relationships between parents and children begin with both at the foot of the cross together, learning to repent of sins committed against each other and the Lord and then purposing to treat one another as better than themselves. I know that true healing from a painful past HAS to begin with Jesus as the standard of measure.

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  23. Lewis said: "It's just extremely and painfully difficult for me to see these people as "good" people, as brothers and sisters in Christ, when I see this kind of emotional havoc and I have lived in the debris field of it for two years now."

    AND

    "With her father and his Patriarchal cohorts abusively manipulating her, as well as trying to create turmoil in my professional and ministry environments..."

    Lewis, these are crucial statements I hope are not missed in all your good comments. We are not talking about "lifestyle choices" or "wanting the best for our kids" or however this is being spun. We are talking about evil and true spiritual abuse which, I believe, is greater than any physical abuse someone can experience.

    During the past three or so years where I have publicly denounced these patriocentric teachings, usually naming names, I have seen what I believe is pure evil. This movement is about men and women making a name for themselves, making lots of money, and power, power, power. Those who sell this stuff don't care about the real people who are being influenced or the families that are being destroyed by these teachings. They are willing to go to whatever extreme necessary to keep selling their agenda...lying, gossiping and slandering, manipulating, going to your pastor trying to secure "church discipline" on you, filing lawsuits based on fabrication, you name it. I have seen it and experienced it.

    But the Lord has also made so many things crystal clear to me...the patriocentric "wisdom" is ungodly. James 3 says this: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

    This is exactly what we see within these teachings…selfish ambition and every evil practice rather than the fruits of godly wisdom:

    “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

    We are in a spiritual battle over this issue and what a blessing it is to share in it with those who love the Lord and His Word above themselves. Hillary, keep up the good work and Lewis, I am so happy to have “met” you, brother.

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  24. I guess my question is still very much unanswered. I understand the desire to help those who have been truly abused.

    However, I get the sickening feeling reading these posts that the definition for "abuse" has gotten really out of hand and has turned into a self-indulged victim mentality.

    The distinctions are not clear enough. There are terms being used interchangeably with "abuse and cultish" that are not, in and of themselves, such.

    To try to illustrate my point:

    (cont'd in next comment--too long ;-)

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  25. Because there are abusive parents in EVERY kind of family, denomination, "camp", etc., imagine a family where the father is a pedophile. This father chose to homeschool his children to make it easier to abuse them without being found out.

    It would be ludicrous then, in an attempt to "speak for the abused", to write things like, "Abusive men homeschool to try to hide their activities". While that statement is true in some instances, it is far to overreaching. Now the undiscerning reader has had a shadow cast across every homeschooler he encounters because he read that "abusive men homeschool".

    What I see happening here I've seen over and over. A knee-jerk reaction that "throws the baby out with the bath water".

    You insinuate that a family who uses terms like "guarding a daughter's heart" is a cultish family. It could be true, but you've just cast that shadow across every family who has a genuine desire to do so.

    That cannot be a blanket statement. This is a gross misrepresentation of many, many loving homes who do in fact use such terms and actually mean it and carry it out in a loving, healthy way.

    It matters little "who your audience is" when you hurt these healthy families in the process.

    (To be continued...)

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  26. What of the many families (I know them well) who would agree to being called "patriarchal types" who are gentle, sacrificial, listen to their children and have flourishing, sweet relationships with them, who like Vision Forum AND hold their daughters close, telling them, "You are unique in the sight of God, I'm so blessed to be your Mom/Dad and God has great things in store for you"?

    Who eat whole wheat bread and don't believe it's a sin to wear make-up.

    Who attend the Father/Daughter Retreats and have joyful, healthy daughters anyway?

    Who believe in the authority of parents in the home AND who teach their children that they can DO NOTHING to earn the favor of God because they have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus?

    Who teach a balanced view of repentance and grace?

    Whose daughters may enjoy wearing skirts because they like the feminine way they feel, but wear pants sometimes too?

    What of those families who have instilled a healthy, balanced sense of work and whose children understand that helping with siblings is not abuse, but just a normal part of life, just as it has been for centuries?

    I see some dangerous Psychology being used here. I could bait anyone and get them to *feel* abused. We all had flesh-covered, sinful parents who didn't love us perfectly and we could conjure up "abusive moments" all day if we wanted to. We could even say our whole lifestyles were abusive (my parents sent me to public school. I could easily call this abuse, though they loved me dearly.)

    (The feminists baited their proselytes and instilled in them a hatred of home using a similar tactic.)

    My question is, if grace is so much a part of what we are trying to extend to these daughters, where is the grace for parents who, despite not being perfect are doing the best they know? Instead, I'm seeing a whole generation of ungrateful children rise up against their well-meaning parents. (Hmmm...I seem to recall that in a prophecy of Scripture.)

    It's a disgrace that I have a friend who was so grossly abused (chased with a gun on a regular basis, anyone?? Told how ugly she was...) who demonstrated honor and respect for that wicked father up until his death, having never even received an apology, and still continues to give him honor due a parent to this day. She is healthy because she refused to be a victim. Her children are healthy because she refused to be a victim. She didn't need counseling because she really understood grace and in extending grace to her abusive father, she was healed.

    Address abuse, yes! But address it in the only way it will bring healing (by teaching forgiveness of the abuser, despite their deserving of it). And distinguish, for mercy's sake, the difference in real abuse and a selfish, sin nature that wants to blame and be coddled.

    All the good that is being done here is being negated by the healthy families being torn apart and labeled as a "cult", and by the happy girls who will come here and fall victim to "being a victim" by the baiting of feelings.

    God can not be pleased when His people--faithful, loving parents, are falsely represented.

    All in grace, and pleading, and praying you have ears to hear.

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  27. Call me anonymous II.

    Rev. Rushdoony wrote in several places, too many for me to recall at the moment, that forgiveness comes from a higher court. First justice must be established, for the wounded and for the person who did damage to the other. Society needs this. It is wrong to offer forgiveness and mercy without justice. Mercy is incomplete and cheap without it. The wounded person never gets restored and the offending party never gets to learn that they were offensive. Mercy triumphs over justice, but it does not solve justice so that it never needs to be addressed.

    No Christian should have any cause to contend against mercy, because mercy triumphs over justice and it is mercy that we receive. We pray this every day in the Lord's prayer, pledging to forgive others as God forgives us. But like going to court to seek justice and showing mercy in sentencing are two different things. Reconciliation with the offending party is also another layer on a process of forgiveness and understanding. It is a journey, and the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey. And in that process, the offended party usually has to forgive themselves.

    It think that people misunderstand this topic. It is not a blanket repudiation of all parenting. It is honest and talks about how to deal with the bad results that no one ever wanted come when good parents who mean well end up hurting their children in the process. That good parenting and the love that we share for our parents make it that much HARDER for us to talk about how we feel. It is even harder when we are shamed for talking about the wounds we have.

    Patriarchy hurts some people. I guess it doesn't hurt all people. And if you follow patriarchy and don't believe that it hurt you and yours, that's fine. I think that many of us who read here are really glad. But there are people who have been hurt by this stuff. It isn't just oddball people that get hurt. It hurts good people, and its wrong to not allow those good people to talk about the hurts.

    Do we need a better example than poor Lydia Shattz and her sister? What would you say to her? Should she not be allowed to have something to say? I read on at least one blog that Lydia's parents were really good people and that the family was nice. But they did what someone else told them to do, and they trusted them just like we trust our parents. (Well a lot less than we trust and love our parents.)

    I think that the happy girls who come here can promptly leave, but those who are real victims stay because someone finally had the guts to say something.

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  28. Anonymous...I'd like to address a statement you made, being that I'm an "outsider" to the Patriarchy movement, only coming to be aware of it 3 years ago despite having grown up in a Christian home and being very active in the Christian community for most of my life.

    Your quote..."You insinuate that a family who uses terms like "guarding a daughter's heart" is a cultish family. It could be true, but you've just cast that shadow across every family who has a genuine desire to do so."

    Speaking for me and those I know, and speaking from my own experience, the threshold where "cultic" comes into play is in families where a child (primarily speaking of adult children) who chooses a different path, and has a different vision of faith and family, is mistreated, cut-off, rejected, emotionally tormented, and estranged for the choice they make. No true opportunity for the person to make a choice whether or not their father guards their heart without retribution of some sort.

    Any family that this isn't true of, I don't consider such a family to be cultic. I don't define a cult, whether great or small, by belief and doctrine, but rather by the behaviors and methods necessary to uphold, defend, and sustain the belief and doctrine. I saw, heard, and witnessed some terrible things done in the family I was involved with in response to some adult daughters desiring different paths. It was a shock to my system.

    That's where I, personally, set the threshold. Others may have an entirely different take.

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  29. Anon II,

    Lydia is a perfect example of how lies, slander and sweeping accusations to immeasurable damage to the reputation of others, and is, in my eyes, SIN.

    You said:

    "But they (Lydia's parents) did what someone else told them to do, and they trusted them just like we trust our parents."

    That is a complete lie. The Pearl's (I'm assuming that's the "someone else") have stated repeatedly, whether you like their tone or not, that ANGER has no place in discipline, that spankings are to be nothing more than a sting and that a parent who disciplines in anger is in sin.

    So you've taken a case where parents abused a teaching/principle, and applied it across the board to wreck the Pearl's reputation and make everything they teach null.

    That is the work of Satan.

    There are many things I disagree with the Pearl's about and many times I could do without the tones he uses, but I hate watching this kind of blaming go on because of someone's abuse.

    Case in point: the abuser does not make a system or a teacher wrong. It makes the abuser wrong.

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  30. Lewis,

    Provided the "different choice" is not all out apostasy where parents should, as the Prodigal father did, prayerfully wait for their son to return and receive him with open arms, I agree with you and am quite relieved to hear you say that.

    I don't think everyone shares your interpretation though. That's my beef.

    I think if you had observed the hundreds of families as I have who ascribe to the definition of patriarchy (maybe even patriocentricity) and have raised happy, healthy, Jesus-loving adults, you would see why I mention the offense this blog can be to such families. It feels just like the above example that Anon II gave of the recent child-beating. Lumping everyone together in the same "abusive, cult camp", no matter how shrouded it is in words of "gentleness and grace" is hateful at best.

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  31. Anonymous,

    Your quote..."I think if you had observed the hundreds of families as I have who ascribe to the definition of patriarchy (maybe even patriocentricity) and have raised happy, healthy, Jesus-loving adults, you would see why I mention the offense this blog can be to such families."

    My ex-fiancee's family would, on the surface, to anyone who wasn't more than a VERY intimate aquaintance, appear to be one of these families you're describing. Cosmetically, a beautiful, balanced, wholesome family. Once I got close enough to see the inner workings, they were a train wreck of guilt, shame, emotional leverage and manipulation. She admitted to me that who they were in public and who they were behind the four walls of home were two distinctly different groups, that she pretended to be happy because "that's what a godly daughter does". She knew, by experience and by unspoken command, there'd be retribution if she didn't carry out the facade of wholesome and gooey Christian goodness.

    I have to question, in many cases, if these happy, healthy, Jesus loving-adults are genuinely all of those things, or, act out all of those things to fit a mold they've been forced to live by.

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  32. Lewis, thank you. As one who played the part so well that I thought it was true, I can vouch for what you have seen. Just because things look good on the surface does not mean that things are ok. Abuse hides.

    Anonymous, I have worked with a lot of home school families. Most of them looked perfect. However, most of them, if they were comfortable with me, would admit to having a rebellious child or to a family member having an addiction or something that we would consider less than perfect.

    Let me clarify a bit. EVERY family has some dysfunction (i.e. they aren't perfect - they sin against each other). No person on this earth will make it through life unhurt in some way. The dysfunction becomes abuse when it is repeated, when it is hidden, when it is excused, when it is considered normal.

    For example, if a parent demeans their child once, but then sincerely apologizes while giving the child permission to grieve and express their hurt, that would probably not have a permanent affect on the child's life. However, when a parent demeans their child constantly and either never recognizes it or "apologizes" but then keeps doing it with no repentance and further demeans the child if they show hurt, that is abuse that can greatly damage a person's soul.

    Also, please realize that there are often "code words" in an abusive situation. Therefore, what is said can be very Biblical and right, while communicating to the abused a very different message.

    For example, a daughter can be told that she needs to have a "meek and quiet spirit." This is very true and certainly is Scriptural. However, IF (I'm not saying this always happens) the daughter has learned (through consequences that are hidden from outsiders) that this means she must never dare to think or say anything different than her parents do, then she will hear a much different message in those words than an outsider will.

    These are not easy things to figure out. Two families could look exactly the same on the outside, but one could be totally normal and the other could be abusive. My goal is certainly not to label all patriarchal families as abusive. I personally know some who aren't abusive. But I also know some who are.

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  33. One more thing. Anonymous, are you worried about your children someday thinking that you abused them when you had no intention of doing so? I could easily imagine that being a huge fear in any parent's life.

    If so, please don't live in fear. Allow open communication with your children about their thoughts and feelings. Teach them how to agree to disagree with you. Let them have interests that don't interest you. Be willing to see a different perspective. Show them unconditional love.

    Yes, you will hurt your children somewhere along the line, probably deeply at some point. And you probably won't realize it for a long time. That's ok. You don't have to be perfect. Children, even young adults, are very forgiving. Especially if you have been very forgiving of them. And if they truly believe that you have done your best, it makes it a whole lot easier.

    So please don't live in fear. Live in humble confidence that God is at work in your life. God has redeemed your past (this does not mean that you don't need to grieve, just that He is waiting with open arms to heal the pain). He wants to walk with you through whatever the future holds.

    (I hope you don't think I'm preaching at you in that last paragraph. These are things that I am just learning. They are treasures that take my breath away. I have trouble believing they exist sometimes. But they are things that are found over and over in the Bible, so I know they are true.)

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  34. I'm the first Anon who left a comment in this string of comments, and I'm going to comment again. . . the last poster is correct. #1. What is "heard" is NOT always what it seems. Absalutely NOT. #2. My Dad, had he read Mike P's writings, would not have focused on his teachings that imply mercy or grace or self-control--he did not view himself as an angry person, so he wouldn't have SEEN that the way he interpreted MP's writings was angry/abusive. MP does NOT do enough to address the dangers of being an abusive parent--not at all. He touches on it here and there, and a good, non-abusive person will pick up on that. An abusive person will NOT. #3. As a family, my husband and I have a very conservative approach to life in dress and practice. I don't agree with all that the author of the blog is saying in very small detail for that reason. HOWEVER, I absalutely fervently believe what I hear her general tone/message to be, and know where she is coming from! It's been very hard for me to learn to separate what I was taught as a black and white from what I really believe God is calling me to in terms of dress etc. I think any of our children would tell you that we are not an abusive home, we certainly don't "do" QF, Patriarchy, don't believe the daughters must all stay home with Daddy or brothers until married and on and on. We are trying to raise our children to love and obey GOD, and to help them know how much He loves and values them, even while still desiring their obedience. We try to model mercy and grace and respect. We try to give them freedom in areas that we don't feel are "thus saith the Lord" even if it's not what we would prefer always. So, just want to encourage the blog owner to press onward even if her "brush" paints some of us "more conservatives" a bit black according to some people's concerns. It really doesn't bother me. Those of us who are healthy can handle a little "mud" accidentally slung our way, you know?! ;-)

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  35. Anonymous II here again.

    I brought up Lydia Shattz because she is a single girl in a single family, a really good family apart from everything else. The friend of their family loved them all, and they were good people who wanted to do good things by being responsible for their kids.

    They did what the books tell them to do. They had a bad outcome. I think that if Lydia was alive, she would probably find this blog as a place she could come to talk about being a quivering daughter.

    You wrote:
    >>>That is a complete lie. The Pearl's (I'm assuming that's the "someone else") have stated repeatedly, whether you like their tone or not, that ANGER has no place in discipline, that spankings are to be nothing more than a sting and that a parent who disciplines in anger is in sin.

    So you've taken a case where parents abused a teaching/principle, and applied it across the board to wreck the Pearl's reputation and make everything they teach null.
    >>>>

    I didn't read that these parents were angry people. That was my point. I mentioned one person who got hurt while her parents were trying to do what was right. I read that they were following the plan that was spelled out in the books. Did you know the family or read something from someone who knew the family that said they were people that disciplined in anger? I read somewhere that they were doing the routine, and Lydia stopped breathing after a spanking for pronouncing a word that was wrong. And the kids were very happy children.

    I didn't even say anything about the guy who wrote the books because that wasn't the point. The point was that this family trusted a system, and from what has been said of the family, it was a good one and the parents loved their kids who were very happy.

    I'm sorry if I failed to say that because I wanted to stress that the family meant well, and they trusted someone to help them. And my other point was that Lydia could be one of the girls who could find understanding here after she suffered.

    I could be Lydia. I could be Lydia's mom. I could be the author of the books, too. That says that we are all human and make mistakes. I don't see that as making everything someone teaches null.

    Isn't that thinking in black and white?

    I'm very sorry if what I said was taken the wrong way. That isn't what I meant.

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  36. Lewis, i also am sorry for your pain. your words sting to read, because i left two broken hearts in my wake before i decided to leave my family, though i wasn't engaged to either of them. i don't know if i should have left my family to marry one of them... but the past is the past.

    *please* know that there are those of us who have hurt wonderful men while we were still not ourselves, in a sense, who cry for you who we have hurt even years later; who wish the past could be redone and a different outcome produced; who wish that the hurts could be avenged somehow for they weren't your fault or my fault entirely...

    please forgive her... you may never know if she remembers you and your times together with tears of sorrow but also fondness, for she knew she was truly loved once. but you can pray that she will cling to that fact and that she will find the One who you exemplified to her in His time.

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  37. Sharon...Your quote..."Also, please realize that there are often "code words" in an abusive situation. Therefore, what is said can be very Biblical and right, while communicating to the abused a very different message."

    So, so very true. In my experience, her family had contorted and expanded the definitions of so many words that there were times I felt as if I needed a translator. This eventually worked to my detriment and was used against me, as when I would use the same words - in their proper context - she was wired to hear them entirely different from the meaning, and took any level of criticism or disagreement as an all out attack against her and her family. I once told one of my friends, "I think I need a break from honor and honorable." I'd heard them overused and misused (as weapons of agenda, really) so often. In her family's personal dictionary, "honorable" was defined as follows: the willingness to submit to and obey dad's every command and whim, whether he's right or wrong, and not question him in any way. From her family's perspective, I was also expected to carry the weight of that definition and the rest of their definitions. A "request" was another one. Anytime I heard that something was "requested" by her parents, I knew that it was in reality a rule that would come with a corresponding emotional punishment if not "honored".

    kalipay...Thank you for the kind words. I'm far from perfect and nowhere near a wonderful man. As I've become better educated concerning the experiences and scarring that this kind of upbringing creates in many women, I can see many things I could've, and probably should've, done in a different manner, with a better choice of wording, with a better tone, what have you. Forgiveness is still a daily struggle and process for me, more toward those who manipulated her than toward her. I don't always win and I don't pretend to. It's as if she's died, twice - the day she betrayed me and disappeared and the day she married this other man - yet stills walks the earth. It literally went from red hot absolution one day to her disappearance and total chaos in my world the next, and I haven't been allowed to speak freely with her since. Forgiveness is tough.

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  38. Just a few thoughts from perhaps a "middle" perspective.

    I am a 27-year-old daughter living in my parents' home. This is by my own choice, as I returned home voluntarily after spending a year in Spain doing some mission work. I discovered this blog about a month ago and have read only a very few posts so far, so I'll won't pretend to have a comprehensive grasp on all the issues involved.

    I came to this blog thinking how absolutely grateful I was to God that I had not suffered such abuse that apparently other girls in my situation (homeschooled, conservative, etc.) had experienced. My father has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and pursuits, while at the same time acting as a protective buffer when it comes to the dating/courtship scene. Until about a year ago, I never even realized that some girls from families that looked outwardly like mine felt so oppressed. For me, all the classic "legalistic" aspects of conservatism have never been anything but freedom and preference. For instance, I wear skirts because I genuinely like them, but I am free to wear pants, and sometimes do. I guard my heart from opposite-gender relationships because I am convinced that is the best thing to do, not because I'll be browbeaten into submission if I don't. I don't have to ask permission to go out of town for the weekend or talk to a guy or make choices.

    Therefore, I come here with the distinct understanding that this blog is not written "to me." I am outside the intended audience, and so far I have only come here out of curiosity, seeing that there are some good materials here and feeling like perhaps something I glean can be passed on to someone else someday.

    I read with interest this post and the discussion that went along with it, and Anonymous's comments pulled me up short. She said, "I could bait anyone and get them to *feel* abused." Her comments revealed to me that I had unconsciously been creating a "fake wound" through digesting some of these materials.

    "Hmmm... my dad has anger problems. Maybe he doesn't lead Biblically..."
    "Oh, yeah, I've noticed that my dad is unhappy if I go against his wishes. Am I being manipulated without even realizing it?"
    "My dad wasn't too thrilled about the guy my sister picked. I wonder if that shows he's really the same as all these controlling, manipulative fathers?"
    etc.

    I believe the point Anonymous was trying to make was to caution people against adopting a victim's mentality when it wasn't warranted, and in my case, the point was well taken (thanks, Anonymous!). But Hillary, please realize that I don't want to attack you at ALL, because I believe you are ministering to precious souls who truly have been abused.

    I would like to respectfully suggest that somewhere on your site you address people like me who might be sucked into rebelling against a family relationship that is genuinely healthy and Godly, but that occasionally (inevitably) manifests a few of the same fruits of fallen human nature that have been taken so far out of balance in the patriarchy movement and elsewhere. I'm sure it would be the farthest thing from your intention to "suck anyone into rebelling" (except in such cases where that was code language for doing or thinking anything other than what the Patriarch dictated). Perhaps you have already posted something of the sort; if so, I'd be interested to read it.

    Lewis, your experience was heart-rending to read, and I sincerely hope that God will bring healing and peace to your heart. Song 8:6-7 with 2 Cor. 2:14a.

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  39. "I would like to respectfully suggest that somewhere on your site you address people like me who might be sucked into rebelling against a family relationship that is genuinely healthy and Godly, but that occasionally (inevitably) manifests a few of the same fruits of fallen human nature that have been taken so far out of balance in the patriarchy movement and elsewhere. I'm sure it would be the farthest thing from your intention to "suck anyone into rebelling"..."

    I don't really get this. Sin and wrongdoing and abuse have always been spoken against by good people. Why now the worry that someone who is not sinning, doing wrong, or being abused will suddenly think they are because of reading what is written here? Is this the authors' faults? Or is it the fault of people not understanding scritural discernment? Can you imagine if the Apostle Paul had to add disclaimers everytime he addressed wrongdoing in the epistles?

    Might I respectfully (and I mean that sincerely) suggest that if you cannot discern whether or not a teaching applies to you, it is not the fault of the materials, but your own for not having the spiritual discernment you need and for making a rash judgment based on something you read on the internet. :)

    The only disclaimer I add to anything I write is this: if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, throw it out. If you can't figure out which it is, maybe you shouldn't be trying on shoes until you know without a doubt the size of your foot. ;)

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  40. Securehope, thank you for your concerns and taking the time to comment. I've been in prayer over what you've suggested and while I've not received clear direction yet, I wanted to respond and say that you're right ~ I definitely do not wish to "suck anyone into rebelling." May I muse "aloud" for a moment?

    Starting this blog, I honestly had no idea where it was going. Over time, concerns such as yours began to creep into my mind as the blog (and other writing) continued. Things such as: am I going to lead others astray? Am I wrong? Is this really from You, God?

    This has compelled me to stay before Him on my knees. Listening to the feedback of others and weighing these things by Scripture and beseeching God for wisdom is what I try to always do, like I am now with your suggestion. I take into consideration that I do know who you are or what precisely motivated you to write; perhaps you have commented before; perhaps you are a member of my family, perhaps you are someone I've met. Regardless, I understand and appreciate your concern for others and so I take this very seriously.

    It seems that perhaps the core of your concern is that I am putting ideas into someone else's mind? Ideas that may not have been there before, but could potentially be hurtful to themselves and others, perhaps making them doubt or question?

    Because all of us are sinful people (children, parents, myself, etc.) there will be dysfunction, mistakes, sin. As Christians, we know this. You wrote:

    I would like to respectfully suggest that somewhere on your site you address people like me who might be sucked into rebelling against a family relationship that is genuinely healthy and Godly, but that occasionally (inevitably) manifests a few of the same fruits of fallen human nature that have been taken so far out of balance in the patriarchy movement and elsewhere.

    *continuing to muse*

    First, I am genuinely sorry if anything you've read here has pulled you (or anyone else) toward rebellion. That is the opposite of anything I ever hope to accomplish, which is why repeatedly I ask my readers to weigh what they read here according to Scripture and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit regarding all matters. He does promise wisdom, and gives it liberally to all who ask. And He can correct any error that comes about through anything I've written; I fully acknowledge my fallibility as a human. I pray I never stop learning and that my writing reflects what I learn as I grow and [hopefully] become more like Christ. I want to be humble and open to correction and the input from other godly believers, and I do not ever wish to lead anyone away from the truth.

    FOLLOW JESUS ALONE.

    At the same time, in being obedient to what He has asked of me, I can't fall prey to fear. The fear of what I write being misinterpreted, that others will fall into rebellion or be led astray, etc... because if I did, I would freeze up and not write anything at all, which would then be direct disobedience to the Lord. So as I seek balance and what He would have me do regarding your suggestion, these are things I consider. On one hand, writers are in a position of grave responsibility because we communicate ideas, thoughts, and have somewhat of an influence. On the other, each of us are ultimately responsible for our own actions, beliefs, and how we allow others to influence us. In the end, truth will stand, whether truth is that (for example) a lifestyle / person / belief was abusive or was not abusive.
    (con't below)

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  41. I also, since writing to a very specific audience, acknowledge that my direct audience are Christian adults. To repeatedly offer disclaimers regarding what they already know is not something I believe is necessary. And even if I were to offer disclaimers, then when does it end, seeing as how anyone could end up here? (I am not being difficult, just considering the feedback I've gotten from many demographics.) I've heard from atheists, Baptists, media, conservatives, non-conservative Christians, Mennonites, Calvinists, Arminians, homosexuals, egalitarians, complementarians, those for homeschooling and those against it, feminists, parents, children, men, women, and I could go on and on...tons of differing viewpoints who could all "use" a disclaimer. Does this make sense? So as I seek the Lord about it, these are the kinds of things I bring before Him.

    After all of this *smile* I know I've not satisfactorily answered your concern but I am praying about what steps to take and will continue to do so. Will you please pray for me?

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  42. Responding to Darcy's comment where she quotes someone else's comment.... ;-)

    >>>>"I would like to respectfully suggest that somewhere on your site you address people like me who might be sucked into rebelling against a family relationship that is genuinely healthy and Godly, but that occasionally (inevitably) manifests a few of the same fruits of fallen human nature that have been taken so far out of balance in the patriarchy movement and elsewhere. I'm sure it would be the farthest thing from your intention to "suck anyone into rebelling"..."

    DARCY SAYS
    I don't really get this. <<<<

    Darcy, I think that I do get it.

    When a person is in a spiritually abusive setting or even in a one on one relationship with someone who "has to be right" about everything, it has a potent affect on the person they are manipulating. In order to cope and survive with the demands, a person has to flatten and dullen their own discernment. They have to forfeit their own ideas and they learn to give deference to other people. They absorb the discernment of someone else in place of their own.

    When the person goes outside of the spiritually abusive group or their manipulative relationship, this "deference" does not turn off, and it creates a great deal of stress and anxiety for them. Suddenly, either the group or their manipulator is not there to tell them what is true for them and what is not. It is an affect of the habit of being under spiritual abuse and being under other types of manipulation, and when the person looses this "filter" outside of the alternate world the relationship created for them, they have to find some way to cope.

    I believe that when people who are habituated to this way of life, giving up their critical thinking skill in order to conform with the dictates of their group, when they come to a site like this that can be very challenging, they experience a great deal of stress. It can manifest as criticism --"You are encouraging victim mentality and you are sinning against your parents and calling everything good they did for you evil." The person has been trained into seeing everything as "all or nothing" because of the abuse they themselves are suffering, so they must completely discount everything to avoid the stress of the idea that not everything is totally black or white.

    (continued in next comment)

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  43. (continued from previous comment responding to a comment from Darcy)

    I see this request you've quoted as another way of dealing with this kind of stress, another alternative to outright and direct criticism. Assuming that I am correct, this is another way that a person who is under patriarchy's teachings which demand that the parent always be 100% right about everything can perhaps cope with the stress that they feel. The doctrine of patriarchy says "No parental error ever!" but the person feels threatened by the accounts here that suggest that parents are human and we are all given to sin. Life in Christ is a process of change through the Spirit and not through static dogma, and the discussions on this site bear witness to that. This will then create a great deal of stress for the person who is manipulated by shame and the demand for perfection under patriarchy. It is very hard to comprehend, it is painful to try to comprehend, so I think that they are trying to ask for help which will help them understand and will alleviate some of their cognitive stress (cognitive dissonance).

    I have not read the original comment in context, just Darcy's response to it, but that much suggests to me that the person is listening and trying to listen to the "daughters of patriarchy" which is a very positive step toward growth. It means that what is being written is bearing witness to the truth and that creates the stress. The truth creates the stress as it challenges the doctrines that are not realistic. So I actually see a tremendous amount of courage in the request, because it seems to me that they are really trying to make sense of things. That is the very beginning of the process of getting out from under spiritual abuse.

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  44. Cindy, thank you, that does make sense to me but it doesn't seem to fit in this case, since the author of the comment gave us a little family back-ground. She seems to have a healthy relationship with her dad and that's awesome. Her concern was that she was reading this blog and creating a "fake wound" where there was none, and that perhaps others would do the same. I cannot judge motives by one comment and have no wish to. This is why I addressed discernment in my comment.

    If I, as a wife to a loving but human man, start reading blogs that talk about abusive marriages, and am somehow talked into the idea that my husband is abusive because he won't put his dirty socks in the laundry basket and that proves that he is controlling and manipulative and I get a "victim mentality" and see every thing he does that I don't like as "abusive"....is that the fault of the authors who are trying to help people in real abusive situations, or is that my fault because I apparently can't tell the difference between a bad habit and manipulation?? Should I then go to the authors and suggest that they address people like me who get "sucked into" thinking the worst about their husbands because of what is written in their blogs?

    This is what I was thinking when I read the original comment by Secure Hope. In that situation I would completely acknowledge my own lack of discernment and never even think about asking the authors of the materials to do something about it.

    I hope my replies have not sounded unkind or harsh. I honestly don't mean them that way.

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  45. EXCELLENT analogy, Darcy.

    Cindy, your comment helped me a lot, personally. It helps to understand the cognitive stress that sometimes accompanies seeking truth. Thank you.

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  46. Darcy,

    Thanks for this comment. It gives me a chance to clarify a bit what I referred to.

    I meant this in a general sense as opposed to something specific about a particular person's situation. I noted that over the past week or two here, there has been a type of "too much victim mentality" feedback to some of the posts and comments. This is what I would call one of the prototypical responses to info that challenges someone that is working through their own ideas about the rules of their on system, and it is a hopeful one. In general, I wanted to honor it as hopeful and encouraging, though it may seem like a negative comment in some ways.

    It's also encouraging that you have concern for the person that you were responding to directly. I didn't see that as strongly as you did from a personal perspective. I apologize if my own comment seemed like a specific comment about a specific person, as I it did just pop out at me in only the general sense in regard to ways people tend to respond on the subject. I am deeply connected to the dilemma of how to balance criticism of wrong ideas, discussion of wounds that were caused by well-meant ideas that had some regrettably painful consequences, and yet show due honor and gratitude for the goodness that came from those with some wrong ideas (along with many good ones). It is a challenge to do that effectively and in the most optimal way, and I hope to always improve upon this acquired skill and sensitivity. But God is gracious, and so are His people, and for that I am grateful.

    Thanks

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  47. Darcy,
    I am laughing at myself...seeing my comments in the light you put them really *did* make them seem absurd.

    Hillary,
    You are SO gracious and kind and I appreciate your response. I can totally see where you are coming from about putting disclaimers out there for everyone who is NOT your target audience. Yikes! Please DO continue what you are doing and don't lose heart when random strangers like me make meddlesome comments. Although I was sincere in what I said, I now see how absolutely trivial that is. Neh. 6:3. May you be mightily blessed by the Lord as you follow Him in this helpful ministry.

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  48. Secure Hope,

    I didn't find your comments absurd or trivial at all. I do appreciate your concerns and take them seriously. I continue to hold this issue before the Father, seeking His direction. I'm sure at times it might be a little unnerving to speak up in a place that, as you noted, may not be directly in application to you. Yet the fact that you did speaks to your care for the body of Christ. :-) So please do not consider yourself meddlesome. :-) Hugs and peace to you, sister.

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  49. Not to join in the mutual misery society, but having likewise been through a failed relationship with a girl because of her father and her refusal to actually commit...similar to many of the details that "Lewis" has shared...I have one question:

    Why do any of you continue to be christian? Once I learned what the end result was, I washed my hands of it all; and I'm curious why so many of you who have been through similar situations continue in the very ideology that gave birth to the abuse.

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  50. Adam, that is a very good question. Thanks for asking it!

    I think the quickest way to answer is that there is good and evil in almost everything. I was taught that life is black and white (some things are all good, and anything that is even partly evil should be avoided at all costs), but that is not totally true. There is a LOT of gray. In other words, every religion, every movement, every organization will have problems and will have abuses happening somewhere, sooner or later.

    We as people are human. We make mistakes. We hurt each other, intentionally or unintentionally. This happens in every religion, every family, everywhere.

    I have chosen to reject the evil, but cling to the good. This means I have to do a lot of sorting and thinking. I have to figure out what is lie and what is truth. This is much harder than just rejecting a whole system, but I believe it is worth it.

    I am learning to redefine the "code words" in my mind. I am learning to see God in an entirely different way than I used to - and am finding that the Scriptures are what is convincing me of the change. I am learning to "untwist" the twistings that led me to think God was just out to get me if I broke any of the little rules that others seemed to think He agreed with. I am learning to see that His grace is real and He does not wait for my behavior to be perfect to give it to me.

    In short, God is not the problem here. It is how people have twisted who He is and what He has said.

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  51. Adam,
    Here's my short response to "ixyboy" in the most recent post, who asked the sme question:

    For myself, I discovered that the God of the Bible was NOT the god that our fundie church told us about. He was not the god that ATI taught us to fearfully obey. And He was not the god that my parent's pointed to to show me I was wrong. I saw a God in the gospels that was full of mercy, compassion, love, beauty and desire for a relationship with His created beings. I saw the story of redemption as a thread running throughout the whole Bile account. THe very beauty of it drew me as I had never been drawn before. I experienced God the way He'd always wanted me to, the way He created me to. This has produced a passion in me to hand freedom, mercy, love and grace to those who are still stuck in the old ways. Who are still reading the Bible and understanding God through Fundie glasses. I am not picking and choosing which parts to follow...I am finially understanding the Bible and Jesus in the way He was always meant to be understood. Jesus Himself said He came to bind up the broken-hearted and set the captives free. This is the Jesus I follow.

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  52. I have seen this repeatedly, to varying degrees. My older sister felt the trauma of "loving a son of patriarchy." They were engaged (after his parents rushed him into it) until his parents and sisters manipulated the entire situation, forcing him, at 23 years old, under the guise of honouring parents to not talk to her for a month, "to seek God about the relationship." He ended that convinced God was telling him to move forward, but his family shot that down and forced him to break off the engagement, and in a very rude and unfeeling manner.

    She's now happily married... yes, to another son of the patriarchal movement, but one that has overcome and come out as a healthy adult. A guy that really values her and is loyal to God and to her above his parents.

    My parents raised us with a more moderate version of the patriarchal movement, and both of them are perfectionists. I grew up skirts-only, KJV-only, no-music-with-a-beat, etc. and definitely as a legalist. But after that experience with the extreme version, they started to allow us more freedoms and encourage more seeking God for ourselves. It's been challenging at times over the past couple years as we have all been working through the changes and the resulting conflicts at times but it has been so worth it!

    A boyfriend I had during the stage where I was starting to figure out myself and my faith and God, was such a gift. He encouraged me to make decisions on my own, even if it was something as small as choosing where I wanted to eat (which, being a pleaser and a middle child, I was hardly capable of deciding). To relax about what people think of me. To discover and embrace my unique personality. To believe that I was beautiful, attractive and talented. To dream my own dreams and make my own goals rather than just going with the flow and following dreams others made for me. He gave wings to the concept that God didn't accept me based on performance. That I was loved even when I didn't quite measure up.

    In the end, we discovered we weren't right for one another, but I am grateful for how kindly God used him in my journey of discovering grace.

    I am learning what grace and freedom are, and it feels wonderful! I no longer am so insecure and fearful of what other people think of me so am no longer shy, but am now seeing the outgoing side of my personality. :)

    P.S. I'm not against homeschooling, however, for those who can manage it with patience and grace, and are skilled enough to educate the children well. Some can, some can't.

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  53. Wow. I just found this site and, wow. I suppose I am a recovering "quivering daughter" and just reading through this list showed me how much my husband loved me, even though he had NO idea what he was getting into with my family. He was my friend for years before we started dating and he let me be myself - let me be free to not be perfect all the time. We still struggle with the fallout of my upbringing (although my parents are wonderful people who love me and my siblings very much, we were all - including my father - damaged by our years of living with patriarchy). Not that my husband doesn't have his own baggage, but he has brought a lot of healing to me, some I didn't even realize until I read through this list.

    Another person who helped me tremendously is the Orthodox priest who is now my pastor. He encouraged me to hear God for myself, to trust the Holy Spirit speaking to me and he told me that in the Orthodox wedding service, the father does not give the bride away. In fact there are no vows either. All that is asked of either bride or groom is whether they are there of their own free will. Even just knowing that helped me to choose to allow my father to "give me away" when I got married, knowing in my heart that I didn't "belong" to him in God's eyes. And when my husband and I became Orthodox a year later, I was able to withstand my father's judgement and rejection of my faith with confidence that I was following God.

    I wish I had understood better before marriage how dysfunctional my family dynamics were. At the same time, I'm very thankful for the way I was raised. I loved being homeschooled, I'm very close to my mother and siblings, I know huge portions of Scripture by heart. But I can also see that my ability to function in normal relationships is impaired. Parenthood has brought a lot of healing as well. I was very authoritarian with my first child, but I'm much more relaxed now. Again, finding freedom through my faith and the continued love of my husband has helped. I keep wanting him to define me and he keeps refusing and making me figure out for myself who I really am! The nerve! And his forgiving heart has allowed me to forgive my father and to see how much my father was hurt by our patriarchal environment. It brings me joy to see that finally my father has started to pull free and is finding healing himself, but there were a few years that were very tough for all of us.

    I think this is a great site that is doing a service to women. Thankfully, I have found a lot of healing and have been able to see God's hand in even the most painful parts of the past. I pray that all the women you minister to are able to be healed and see God's love for them. Blessings!

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  54. This has meant so much to me, and makes me love my husband so much more. My first love didn't understand the bondage I had to my family. He just saw it as my weird beliefs. He didn't fight for me. He chose the path of least resistance.

    My husband fought for me and still does to this day...when I'm continually feeling that for sure this thing I did or that word I said or this way I ignored him, etc., had to be the breaking point of what would keep him from loving me anymore...he never stops. He just keeps assuring me that he has loved me since the first time he said he did and he will always love me no matter what, and I can't change that, etc.

    He has also built a respectful relationship with my parents, so that we can all be a happy family. That was important to me, even if I've moved on to different beliefs. In many ways, my parents have seen the joyful fruits of those changes, and they've changed too.....and then he holds me and comforts me when I am still hurt by things that haven't changed.

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  55. Unfortunately, like "SecureHope" mentioned... your site does have the potential to suck some "adults" into rebelling... I've seen it happen firsthand. This person read your site, got to feeling sorry for herself and was sucked into rebelling against a family relationship that is genuinely healthy and Godly.

    She threw away everything that was healthy and good in her life and is now living a life that no-one (friends, family- Christian and non-Christian alike) can even understand.

    I don't blame you for that but unfortunately there should be disclaimers because not all adults are spiritually mature. And Satan will use your site for evil.

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  56. The devil used scripture for evil. (see Luke 4:9-11.)
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  57. Very true.
    All the more reason for you and your site to be careful what you lead people into and be sure you're in the will of God and seeking counsel outside yourselves. (i.e. Mature Adult Godly people... perhaps grandparent types who are VERY strong in the word of God)

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