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Women's Birthing Rights, Women's Bodies

I Name the Patriarchs, Part I: The Truth About “Full Quiver” Families

I just completed an article on the Religious Right and how it has managed to amass such power and  influence in the United States over so short period of time, drawing on my own knowledge of and experiences in that world as a woman and magazine publisher in the 1980s and early 1990s.  I am very proud of my article — I have not so far seen the dots connected as I was able to connect them, and connecting them is essential to fighting the Religious Right —  and I am excited that it is Off Our Backs which will be the magazine to publish it.  I hope many women subscribe to OOB or at least order the upcoming issue.  If you subscribe right away, you’ll get the issue in which this article will be published.

Writing the article has been, in some ways,  a rugged experience for me, drawing me back to hard days and times it pains me to recall, to memories and sadnesses I’ve pretty much put to rest in the 13 years since my excommunication (which I discuss in my article).   At the same time, researching the article was enlightening, and in some interesting ways, vindicating, to me. 

I don’t know how I missed it, but I learned, for example, that one of the leaders on the Religious Right who was central to my own national excommunication — Michael Farris of Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia — had recently stepped down as president of his Patrick Henry College, opened in 2000.  Why?  Because nearly a third of the professors of the college resigned last spring in one fell swoop citing issues of academic freedom after one of them got fired by Farris on the spot one day.  When the outrage level reached the tipping point, Farris  bailed as president.  News of the professors’ revolt and resignations was widely reported; after all, that is  news.  How often does one-third of a college faculty resign?  But it wasn’t news to me.  I know this guy.  I know what he does, and I know what the men in that world do.  What has been so astonishing to me is that Farris has gotten away with this kind of stunt for decades– all the way up to his recent very cozy relationship with President Bush.  He was one of five male leaders on the Religious Right invited to the infamous signing of the partial birth abortion ban, for just one example.  His rise to the top of the male heterosupremacist power hierarchy went virtually unimpeded until last spring. 

I also, in my researching, learned that R.C. Sproul, Jr, son of a highly-regarded theologian, had been defrocked by his denomination amidst charges of spiritual abuse, identity theft, and promoting use of alcohol, including at church meetings, in a way that was, um, immoderate.   It wasn’t just communion.  This was of interest to me in part because one of his closest chums in the patriarchy movement, Doug Phillips,  once an attorney with Farris’s organization, once publicly and openly castigated me as “a jezebel” at a conference in which he was theoretically pontificating on about homeschooling.  I was interested in learning how Phillips would respond to his buddy’s defrocking.  He didn’t, that I could see (and he’s still selling his buddy’s books). 

After my excommunication, when I resumed publication, I got an e-mail from a woman in these circles who had been a subscriber.  “If this were truly a godly nation,” she wrote, “you wouldn’t only have been excommunicated.  You would have been executed.”  The woman’s name is Valerie Jill Barrett.  I went looking to find out how she had responded to Sproul’s ousting, given that she shares his theology; I found her urging one and all not to listen to “gossip” but to go directly to the source– something she certainly never did when she heard the gossip about me; then it was straight to execution talk.  Well, maybe she’s changed her mind about these things.  Not so long ago, her abusive ex-husband, a Christian reconstructionist attorney named Timothy Barrett, had his license to practice law suspended in Virginia.  The portion of the page I linked to chronicling Timothy Barrett’s abuse of his ex-wife and of the legal system deserves its own series of blog posts.   Pretty impressive in a macabre and morbid fathers’ rights/men’s rights sort of way.  I find it interesting that despite Timothy Barrett’s antics, Valerie Barrett keeps defending the patriarchs, keeps living the life. 

And that brings me to the real reason for this post.

Today I came across two articles about the “Full Quiver Movement,” so-called, one in Newsweek and one, originally in The Nation,  in AlterNet.    As those of you who have read my writings for a while know, I am the mother of 11 children.   The “full quiver” idea is from the Bible:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.

The movement actually began in the ’80s with the publication of the book The Full Quiver:   Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, by Rick and Jan Hess.  I participated in that movement.  I “let the Lord plan my family.”  I did it all up and wrote about it in my magazine, from 1989-1994– moved to the land, bore my children at home, planted gardens, homeschooled, home-churched, home-everythinged.  Until I broke.  Until I stopped.  I talk about what happened then in my article.

What’s of interest to me is that the “Full Quiver” boards now boast 2,600 registrants.  It seems to me lately that not a month goes by but that there is yet another article about a “Full Quiver” family published in a magazine or newspaper.   The Discovery Channel recently aired a series on the Jim Bob Duggar Family— a “full quiver” family with 14 children.

In both of the articles I linked to, the authors cite to Mary Pride, author of The Way Home:  Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, published in 1985Pride, herself a full quiver mom of 9,  was one of the defendants in my lawsuit against the Religious Right.  In the course of helping to excommunicate me, among other things, her organization personally solicited my advertisers and columnists, told them I wasn’t publishing anymore, and invited them to advertise with and write for Pride’s publications.  She settled with me early on. 

I’m writing this, naming these, names, and will continue to, because the television shows, articles and stories which are circulating do not tell the truth about the “Full Quiver” movement so called.  They don’t, for example, describe the way “full quiver” dads Farris and Phillips participated in the national shunning and destruction of my business and what that meant to me, myself a “full quiver” mom of then nine children.  They don’t describe the abuses of full quiver dads Timothy Barrett or R. C. Sproul, Jr. or any of the men I’ve named.  And above all, they don’t talk about the way the lives of so many, many women in that movement have been all but destroyed– women with 5, 7, 9, 11 or more children, women who lived sometimes for decades with abusive men who were then excommunicated, lost everything they had, when they divorced their abusers.  Women like my columnist and friend, Carol, a midwife and herbalist, mother of 11, who receives no child support from her ex-patriarch husband, who is now saving for a mail-order bride.  She has struggled to support 10 of her 11 children by herself via a greenhouse business.  They don’t talk about full-quiver women like the woman in the South who was excommunicated, whose children turned on her,  who lost everything she had.   They don’t mention women like my friends, H, and L, who served their abusive husbands for decades, only to have them vanish from their “quivers”” lives completely when they finally filed for divorce.  H’s husband is also saving for a mail-order bride — a lot of these erstwhile “patriarchs” seem to go that direction when their wives divorce them.  Neither H’s or L’s husbands have contact with their “arrows”.  My ex-husband also had no contact with his “arrows”– for 11 years.  That was fine with me.  When he did re-establish contact, they suffered nothing but pain and grief.

The full quiver people never talk about the victims of the movement, other than to distance themselves, to explain how it is that the victims are aberrations.  They don’t talk about women like Andrea Yates and her children.  Yates stoned her kids in her back yard, then drowned them, believing she was a terrible mother and that her children would be better off with God than with her.  They don’t talk about women like Kimberly Forder, who with her patriarch husband adopted seven children of color after bearing three biological children.  Following the admonitions of some “quiver full” leaders to be sure to properly chastise and discipline her kids, she and her husband abused one of their adopted children so badly that he died.  It was only this year, four years after the child’s death, when an adult biological daughter charged her adult brother with rape that the story was told.  The family was in Liberia at the time, in the mission field.  The full quiver folks don’t talk about full quiver moms who follow the advice of people like Mike and Debi Pearl and what happens to their children.   They don’t talk about the deep depression into which the wife of the head of Full Quiver Mission has fallen, or why.  They don’t publicize the stories of the women I know– women who have lived in, birthed in, delapidated trailers or shacks without power or running water because their husbands wanted to live “debt-free,” women who have survived on $100 per month for food for seven or eight kids and $25 per month for clothes for those kids, for years, because that’s all their patriarch husbands would allow them.  They don’t publicize the many women who have suffered rapes, beatings, and been told by their “elders” they should pray about it, be a better wife.

Those of us who left that world — we know what happened to us there.  We know what happened to our children there.   Our grown children know what happened there. We see these articles and know all that they don’t tell, about us, and our children.   I am horrified by the news in these links I posted that the Southern Baptist Convention in cahoots with the Roman Catholic church (and only those in my old world know how ironic is that cahoots-dom) is moving in the direction of teaching the joys of the full quiver, all the time, for all women.

The shiny, apparently happy faces of the patriarchs and their full quiver wives and children in articles, on television (and even in the supposed “exposes”, there is, too often, a sort of subtextual admiration, a thinly-veiled reverence for this lifestyle) are an offense to all of us, women and children, who have been harmed by the patriarchs responsible for these teachings.  I am going to be telling the truth about that, for as long as I have a voice.

I dare any of them to silence me.




108 thoughts on “I Name the Patriarchs, Part I: The Truth About “Full Quiver” Families

  1. This is an excellent post, Heart. The truth about this “movement” so badly needs to be told, especially in this day and age when they unfortunately seem to be gaining power and more and more positive coverage in the media.

    I went to a Lutheran college, Valparaiso University. I was a feminist in college (and much before) and it grieved me so to see, as you say, brilliant women, falling for the very conservative, even fundamentalist, line, getting married and living their lives that way. Now I am living to hear some of these women tell the truth about it and I am happy to count among my friends some former members of the religious wrong. I sometimes fight the urge to say I told you so, see, I wasn’t so wrong after all, was I?

    Anyway, it is a brave thing you are doing telling it like it is and naming names, against very powerful and sometimes ruthless people.

    Posted by Branjor | November 14, 2006, 11:08 pm
  2. This was a very moving post and one I would like all young people to read, male and female. I didn’t have a child until I was older, married and financially stable. Even then, my husband and I only had one child. We could only care well for one if I was to stay at home and be a Mom as we wanted. This worked for us for a while and then he abandoned me and our daughter when she was 15. I have been able to provide a good home for my daughter even so without any support from my ex and it is because we only had one that I could do so. I would have loved to have more children but am grateful to have only one. One child who is bright, intelligent and loving – who’s had her needs (not wants) met always and is sure that God’s world is a loving and inspiring place. I am pround of her, she is now eighteen and applying to colleges around the country, and honored to be her mother. I don’t think that would have been the case if I’d had more. In this age, of dying patriarchy, with men not being responsible to their families (large or small) I think it is we women who must ensure that our children are raised up with their needs met. That includes needs for food and shelter, love and praise, faith and curiousity and all the other things that make us human. I wonder, if anyone can really raise more than one child well and without regrets. Thank you for sharing your story and blessings be with you and yours.

    Posted by ejwearley | November 15, 2006, 2:57 am
  3. OK, I will get the article. These Full Quiver guys are making my stomach turn.
    How the RR gets so much influence, I will be interested to read your take.

    Posted by profacero | November 15, 2006, 6:30 am
  4. Also – I think there has got to be something to this phenomenon or syndrome,
    mothers basically incarcerated, and sometimes abusive, and in any case wracked with thinking they are bad mothers. It existed in the modern neighborhood of tract ‘homes’ I grew up in, where families were limited in size and women weren’t literally incarcerated, and some were quite free. So I guess I’m saying something ridiculously obvious: this full quiver phenom seems to be the nightmare version of something which is much more widespread, and takes subtler forms. The fact that it’s not 100% unfamiliar could help explain why/how women get attracted into it.

    Posted by Professor Zero | November 15, 2006, 7:06 am
  5. Reading throught your story heart, and I don’t wants to minimilise the abuses which you talk of, I was struck by the classic signs of cultic behaviour in what happened to you.

    They where loving to you as long as you swallowed the dogma, but question the authority and you are shunned, cast out and attacked.

    Fundimentalism is wrong in any belif system, it teaches belief as truth, and that is always gives abusive people the opportunity to sell their own particular brand of snake oil.

    I find fundimentalist christians as terrifying as any muslim fundimentalist.

    Posted by Corneilius | November 15, 2006, 9:17 am
  6. Cornelius, so true fundamentalist Christians of the full quiver type are as terrifying as any other kind of fundamentalist. That would include imo Bush who is in the pocket of Christian fundamentalists. Also very true that there is always only provisional “love” in the fundie world. So long as you tow the party line, you are “loved.” What’s scary is, this really is the state of conservative Christianity right now nationally. It used to be that what were called cults, what cult experts now mostly call “totalist” or “high demand” groups, were aberrant (sorry for the lousy sentence construction, I’m in a hurry this morning). But now the whole church is this way, talking about neo-evangelicals, evangelicals, fundamentalists, conservative Christians, Bible literalists.
    profacero, I think women are drawn to full quiver families because these women’s lives epitomize “woman” as “woman” is defined under male heterosupremacy. In other words, living this way, for women, is the apex of achievement under patriarchy– these are submissive, “obedient” (to husbands, pastors, “authorities”) women who dedicate themselves to serving men and their children; that is the patriarchal ideal. We all recognize it because we’ve all been swimming in it all of our lives. I think that’s why there is this undertone of admiration in these supposed “exposes.” These are women who have huge families, don’t complain about anything, smile, have smiling children, devote their time to mastering cooking, housecleaning, hospitality, etc. These are the perfect women as patriarchy envisions women: women who exist to serve men and the worlds men have built.
    I started my article for oob with this quote which is apropos:
    “Right-wing women have surveyed the world: they find it a dangerous place. They see that work subjects them to more danger from more men; it increases the risk of sexual exploitation. They see that creativity and originality in their kind are ridiculed; they see women thrown out of the circle of male civilization for having ideas, plans, visions, ambitions. They see that traditional marriage means selling to one man, not hundreds; the better deal. They see that the streets are cold and that the women on them are tired, sick and bruised…They see no way to make their bodies authentically their own and to survive in the world of men… Right wing women are not wrong…Their desperation is quiet; they hide their bruises of body and heart; they dress carefully and have good manners; they suffer, they love God, they follow the rules. …They use sex and babies to stay valuable because they need a home, food, clothing. They use the traditional intelligence of the female—animal, not human; they do what they have to do to survive.”
    –Andrea Dworkin in Right-Wing Women

    ejwearley, thanks for those good words. Something nobody talks about in this world is the way children in these huge families fall through the cracks, are not cared for in the ways they need to be. There are compensations– children in large families learn early to care for each other. Then again, there is usually tremendous pressure on the older daughters in these families to shoulder responsibility for child care and housekeeping, etc. The younger kids fare better because there are older kids to care for them, but the older kids might not fare so well. Quiet children, troubled children, struggling children– they don’t fare so well. Everybody is preoccupied with just attending to daily survival– getting all the kids fed, clothed, diapered, staving off household chaos. They never talk about this stuff– what it’s like to have four or five toddlers/small children, some in diapers, some wetting the bed at night– and one washer and dryer. They don’t talk about children who act out and the way those children are treated — beaten with rods. In that world, there are families who keep “rods” in every room of their house. Well,I could go on and on.
    Branjor, I didn’t know you went to Lutheran college! My experience, as yours, is that these women, many of them, leave that world– but often not until we are middle-aged and have given so much of ourselves. I recently came across some cute but sad blog entries written by subscribers to my old mag who were saying they had vowed to themselves if they ever started thinking feminism was an answer they would head for the hills, but now they are middle aged and feminism is, well, looking kind of appealing…

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2006, 1:47 pm
  7. Fabulous post, Heart. There are several Quiverful moms on Mothering’s message boards and I just can’t wrap my brain around them.

    IIRC, the Duggars are up to 16 children now.

    Posted by Delany | November 15, 2006, 2:39 pm
  8. Thank you so much for this. It was truly touching and fascinating to read a critique of the Quiverfull lifestyle from someone who had lived it. I too grew up Lutheran, like Branjor, and fortunately never quite held to the status quo, though not quite so extreme.

    Posted by rhiannonrevolts | November 15, 2006, 3:06 pm
  9. Anyone follow the link from that trackback? The post about this post ends with: “Warning: The accompanying picture could suprise or offend, but is safe for work.”

    A pregnant stomach can surprise or offend? A religous person claiming a female body is offensive! That’s new!


    Posted by Lya Kahlo | November 15, 2006, 5:35 pm
  10. Heh, Lya Kahlo. 🙂 Gotta keep them bellies covered.

    The woman in my post who most troubles me is Beverly Murch, wife of Bruce Murch of Full Quiver Mission. Her face, her sad eyes, are haunting to me. If you read the website (which is, I know, scary), she recently was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. She fell into a horrible depression, believing she would die on the operating table because in allowing doctors to remove her uterus, she was ending her fertility, not trusting God anymore. She totally believed she would not wake up once she was anesthetized.

    She recovered somewhat but fell into another horrible depression. Well– of course she did. She’s done everything “right.” She devoted her life to her husband, her nine children– the photos there show them protesting abortion with the hideous signs. She and her husband were among the defendants in the suit Planned Parenthood brought against those abortion protesters who posted photos of doctors on their website and then crossed them off when they’d been murdered. PP won and the defendants are basically garnisheed for life. They don’t work because they don’t want to pay PP, so they depend on donations and people taking care of them in ways PP can’t seize. But there she is– went to that level of devotion to God, family, and faith and she got uterine cancer anyway. God didn’t bless her. Women in this world often believe things like this to be a judgment — a sign of God’s disfavor. If she’d been more (fill in the blank, obedient, submissive, giving, hospitable, kind, patient, prayed more) she wouldn’t have become sick. She’d have had 14, 16, 20 kids, instead of only 9. And now? She can’t have anymore children. This is a HUGE loss for these women, who live pregnancy to pregnancy, basking in the evidence of God’s blessing.

    I don’t know. Her face haunts me. I want her to come home to us, her people.


    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2006, 6:04 pm
  11. Delaney and rhiannonrevolt, thanks for the good words.

    Delaney, it’s interesting the effect the quiverfull women have had on the Mothering community just in general. On the one hand, the quiverfull women, or some of them, the old guard anyway, of which I was one, have lived in revolutionary, radical ways as pertains to birthing, pioneering birthing our own way, at home, midwives, no patriarchal docs, all breastfeeding all the time, family bed, fertility awareness, herbal medicine, organic food and babyfood, vegan/vegetarian diets. So they contribute that knowledge. But — a lot of them hit their kids. (I don’t like to say “spank” — it’s hitting, beating. It’s assault.) Some of them abuse their kids really bad (under the aegis of biblical discipline). And as a constituency, they influence Mothering leaders in unfortunate ways. I remember when the influence was first really felt, I believe, in that community was back in the 80s, early 90s, if I’m not mistaken, when Mothering Magazine published an article on a gay family, two gay dads. There was a huge uproar and a bunch of the quiverfull crowd canceled their subscriptions. Shortly after I was excommunicated when I needed to get my writings in other venues (something which has been a horrible problem for me, very typical of what happens to ex-quiverfull women; all of our connections, references, credits are in that world, and the surrounding culture, well, they aren’t all that enthused– even when, as with me, many of my writings had nothing to do with religion, faith, etc. I wrote about organic gardening, living with very little money, birth, labor, breastfeeding, raising chickens and sheep, small farming, and so on), anyway, I submitted an article and photos to Mothering in which they were at first very interested, wanted everything right away. But then… it didn’t happen. And though they didn’t come out and say it, I know it was because I, the jezebel, would have offended the quiverfull contingent, even those who weren’t aware of my situation. I have had children by three men, after all — that doesn’t fly in that world. Although it did fly for me, for a while. But only until people like Farris, et al, found an opportunity to take me out.


    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2006, 6:36 pm
  12. A friend I have made an excellent posting (which I wish I had time to find a bookmark…) pointing out that the entire purpose of the religious right encouraging people to have so many children (and trying to make NOT having children almost impossible…) is so that people can no longer afford to educate their families.

    Uneducated people are easier to control. More religious. They make less, live worse lives, but they give more to the church.

    The stupidest part of all of this is that people do not realize: There is a world OUTSIDE of these ridicules religions.

    I think that I know all of one person who goes regularly to church, and I do not know a single person who believes that the bible is the literal truth of God.

    Religious communities are ridicules. Why in the world does anybody pay them any attention? It just gives them more power, and the courage to launch idiotic lawsuits and to pester lawmakers to pass horrible legislation…

    Posted by Devlin Bentley | November 15, 2006, 7:57 pm
  13. I believe that so many women submit to such oppressive from their desire to serve God. Unfortunately, there is a warped concept that it must be terrible and difficult to serve God and that we must suffer. Notice that women usually suffer the most. The idea of God is very masculine and oppressive. Even the concept of forgiveness comes with a catch or has to be earned by “childbirth.” It is no wonder that many feminists reject any religion at all.

    Heart, I am so glad you are speaking out. I am not surprised that many of these creepy hateful leaders have fallen. Truth cannot be suppressed forever. Anger is a very appropriate feeling and can be a great catalyst for change.

    I too am a quiverful mom. I spent decades of my life baking bread and feeding a houseful on very little money. Yes, it all fell apart (not long after it did for Heart) and now I have bitter, alienated children who were happy to see their father die. That was never my intention. I am still interested in parenting and healthy living but it is not my religion. I love my children and still feel they are blessings. I regret that I did not have the time or resources to care for my oldest children like I do my youngest.

    I decided to discard patriarchy and go into ministry myself. I have to stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves. Most of the people I knew back then are no longer my friends because, after all, they think I am possessed or evil. I know that I am free. My daughters are recovering their own sense of self but I do not know if they can leave the depression behind. The full quiver movement no longer makes me angry, it just makes me incredibly sad.

    Posted by Alterangel | November 16, 2006, 1:37 am
  14. Heart I believe rather then describing the love that highly controling groups like the Quiver movement use as ‘provisional’ a better description is ‘conditional’. Controling groups tend to use what is described as ‘Love Bombing’ quite a lot. Ofcourse you only get loved on condition that you agree with the group. Love bombing and shunning are really powerfull tools which keep adherents in line.

    The opposite of conditional love is unconditional love.

    Posted by Corneilius | November 16, 2006, 8:59 am
  15. I have no love for the abuses of the patriarchalists.

    However, I see too many victims who reject God and the truth entirely as a result of their ordeals.

    I pray that the victims who have written here and who have been mentioned here will find comfort and healing in the arms of God.

    I wish there was something I could do to help correct these problems in the conservative/Christian world, but I’m not sure what that would be. Other than not behaving badly myself, that is.

    One of the problems in dealing with abusive church/family situations is that many of the victims don’t recognize or reject the abuse until the damage is very, very bad. This makes it nearly impossible to help them.

    Posted by Darol | November 16, 2006, 11:51 am
  16. “I believe that so many women submit to such oppressive from their desire to serve God. Unfortunately, there is a warped concept that it must be terrible and difficult to serve God and that we must suffer. Notice that women usually suffer the most. The idea of God is very masculine and oppressive. Even the concept of forgiveness comes with a catch or has to be earned by “childbirth.” It is no wonder that many feminists reject any religion at all.”

    It’s definitely what led me away from religion. I spent years searching for god. Studied for over three years with a priest, with a Bible Fellowship, and then years later studied over three more years with an Orthodox Rabbi. I looked for god. You know what I found – more and more proof that “god” was just ancient man’s ego deified. Religion was created by men, is comprised of men and exists solely for the benefit of men. And I am a woman, I feel no affinity for, or compulsion to follow any religion.

    Posted by Lya Kahlo | November 16, 2006, 1:29 pm
  17. Darol embodies exactly the problem here: blaming women who are abused. Darol is the kind of person who makes me sick of religion and god speak.

    Darol, no it’s not enough to “not behave badly”.

    There’s no excuse for not wanting to learn about what abuse is before making ignorant remarks about how the battered women make it difficult to help them.

    What’s difficult is coming out, because as soon as a woman “slanders” a respected and beloved man, she will be punished worse than the abuse she already suffers, by people who won’t believe her, and by her husband.

    How’s this for a plan: first be curious, then learn, then state an opinion.

    Posted by saltyC | November 16, 2006, 5:06 pm
  18. There’s an interesting thread here about the full quiver people. My daughter is participating; she is “Jeyoani,” and is 30, was raised in my own full-quiver years; she is my third child. She lives in Los Angeles and rocks the house all the time and always has. There are a lot of really provocative issues raised in this thread– so, so many things to talk about, for now, it’s just worth a read.


    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2006, 5:51 pm
  19. I have come out of this too and I wonder if anyone ever talks about how it can take good kind men and turn them into these kind of patriarchs above. When they are in a system that tells them they are to rule, to manage their wives, that they are the priest of the home as in mediator, when the woman believes that she needs that mediator, that her husbands words are as God’s to her…

    It’s a recipe for all sorts of disaster, even if there is no “abuse” going on of a physical nature. I know that I placed my husband on a pedestal he was never created to be on, that I put his words as higher than those of God’s (because I thought his words *were* God’s). I think this was just as destructive to him as it was my own self.

    We are coming out of this. Both of us. I know they would say it is sacriligous, because “God is on their side,” but one day Jesus took me by the hand and started leading me out. …I would love to lie and say how easy it has been, but it is unbelievably hard. We are learning how to relate now, as two adults, as two people. When you’re in that camp, you lose your personhood and you become “a role”. But we are learning!

    Thank you for writing this article. Until this point, I have never heard anyone share what you have, having come from the trenches. In the beginning of my own journey out, I thought I was crazy…that I was completely decieved for questioning, that something was terribly wrong with me. I was so unbelievably afraid. Reading something like this would have given me hope. Thank you.

    I have to say, not everyone in these camps experiences the above. Many of my friends are there, and their lives are just fine—they enjoy all of the leaders mentioned above, too. I am not sure why this sharp difference in experience is…I wonder if it is dependant on those who do it while keeping their personhood intact, versus those who jump in full bore–literalists, as it were. ?

    Posted by patricia | November 16, 2006, 6:54 pm
  20. Patricia, yes– I’ve had lots of discussions with women coming out of the full quiver crowd about what these teachings do to men, and ime, especially men who aren’t particularly successful as the surrounding cultures measures such things. He may be a janitor or a UPS guy or a factory worker or a construction dude by day, but by night and on the weekend? He’s the priest, the king on the throne, master of all he surveys. Of course, nobody cops to that in that world. They say, “No, no, men are to be SERVANT leaders, this is about SERVANT leadership, we aren’t talking about inequality, we are just saying the roles are DIFFERENT.” Except that God in this world is a man. And Jesus? A man. And all the disciples? Men. And all the preachers? Men. All the way down to all the priests of the household? Men. In this world, in many instances, “laymen,” men with no particular education, don’t even have to have high school educations, can be ordained. The pastor who gave the okay on my national excommunication (after I’d left his church months earlier!) was a black man, a forklift driver, who was “ordained” by a pastor in California. So by day, he experienced all of the oppressions working class black men experience, racism, classism, you name it. But on the weekend, he was the shepherd of the flock. He recognized and appointed the co-shepherds, as well, deacons, elders. He also ordained some men and sent them out as pastors. Bottom line, he was able and is still able, still pastoring, to exercise TREMENDOUS control over his congregation. The most egregious example of this was my excommunication, but there were several others excommunicated during my tenure at this church. Of course, then there are the house churches, where all the men get together and lead and all the women follow. In one house church I was part of, all of the women had to be veiled, all had to be silent throughout the meeting, and we had to sit in the BACK of the meeting area. The men and boys, including the youngest boys, sat front and center and could talk freely, including the very youngest boys, could share in turn, etc.

    Not only could the girls and women not speak, we couldn’t make gestures of any kind, physical gestures. The reasoning was that the the words in the applicable verse “Let your women keep silent in the churches” suggested that women and girls were not to indicate any sort of response at all, to anything, in church meetings, even by physical gestures.

    Well, that house church was something. The guy central to it? He was always hauling his wife in to the “brothers” because she didn’t have sex with him when he wanted it or she argued with him in front of the children. Finally when he moved her out to a delapitated trailer on five acres with an orange cord run out to a power pole for electricity, she left him. That was about 15 years ago now. She remarried, got her nursing credentials renewed (he had forced her to let them lapse), cared for her daughters, moved on with her life? Him? He’s still out there in the trailer, still having Bible studies, saving for a mail order bride. (As I said about these guys.) He won’t have any contact with the daughters he cared so much about, especially the one who went to an elite private school back east on full scholarships and volunteered in a DV shelter.

    Anyway, yes, these groups are a bone to a dog for all men, but especially and particularly men who aren’t recognized in daily life. I believe this is one huge reason for the allure of these groups to men. These guys see a chance to rise to the top of some patriarchal heap, given that the societal one is foreclosed to them.

    I don’t think we can say whether or not the women (and men) who stay in this world are okay. While we were in there, everybody thought we were just fine, you know? Because in that world, you have to present as just fine, really fine, happy, obedient Christians walking in the blessings of the almighty, amen. It’s part of your duty as an obedient Christian not to “bring reproach” upon the Name. So people pretend. Lots of people. And others? Well, they make the best of things, in part because they see no way out. And some? The leaders? They are living high on the patriarchal, male heterosupremacist hog, benefitting, benefitting, benefitting, amassing fortunes, promoting books, legislation, ideas which will keep them, and men like them, squarely on top.

    Well, I’m talking and talking here. 🙂 Patricia, good on you, your husband and family for finding your way out! I know what courage that takes. It will get better and better as time passes; you will see things with greater and greater clarity.


    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2006, 7:26 pm
  21. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same Valerie, by the way.

    Posted by barlow | November 16, 2006, 7:48 pm
  22. I’m pretty sure that is precisely the same Valerie. I suggest you ask her.


    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2006, 8:13 pm
  23. I read this and all the links with a heavy, heavy heart. The entire time I was a fundie, I also worked with and counseled abused women in the church. I still do. Because I can’t and won’t turn away. I just hope they will continue to trust me now that I’m not one of them anymore.

    The “headship” doctrine is really damaging and is sometimes taken to extremes. As I was coming out of fundamentalism, I came across men on the internet who were advocating physical “chastisement” (beating) their wives. They were very, very clear that this was not a form of BDSM, it was done not for play or sexual pleasure. It was done for correction, for discipline. As the head of the home, the man has a duty to God to rule the home and all within it, and as such has a duty to discipline and correct his wife when she has done something “sinful” or wrong. Shortly after I found the website, it was removed.

    Another online friend of mine used to sort of “spy” on conservative fundie message boards where the men would start talking about what was worse: if someone raped your daughter or your wife, which possession was of more value and so what the consequence should be for each. Also, the punishment for wives who sinned should be whipping on a bare backside. That sort of thing. Thing that makes this kind of talk even scarier than your usual bubba talk is that these guys would be backing up their assertions with Biblical verses and theological “logic.” These men aren’t your stereotypical beer guzzling redneck good ol’ boys. These are men that appear to the world as upstanding righteous good Christian men.

    What saddens me the most are the victims. The women who write to me and ask if God will hate them for divorcing the man who beats them regularly, if they will no longer be eligible to receive the blessings of God. I hurt for them. I hear so many stories of women who, upon fleeing from abusive Christian patriarchs, have endured the censure and excommunication (if not official, then by default) of their church families. Often, these women have NO other support system, having left their biological families who did not approve of their lifestyles of totalist fundie conservatism or whose parents are likewise embroiled in fundamentalist religion themselves. They have been taught not to trust secular agencies, the battered women’s shelters, the secular therapists for women in crisis. They live with a deeply conflicted mind and heart between what they believe to be true and what they are living day to day. They are counseled to live as examples to their husbands, to submit as Christ did unto death and count it all joy to suffer, to share in the sufferings of Christ. They are taught that their husband’s eternal destiny is in their hands and if they should abandon him, they and he will surely go to hell. She is told that she must not be submitting enough, not being pleasant enough, nor godly enough or else her husband would be pleased with her. She is told this from men she has learned to trust, that she has heard God’s word preached from, that she understands watch over her soul as a shepherd who will account for her soul before God. These beliefs don’t just evaporate when she becomes desperate and tries to find ways to protect herself and her children. They hamstring her and pierce her heart in deep, deep ways…sometimes much deeper than the wounding that comes from the abuse itself because this wounding is between her and her God.

    One’s spiritual life is sacred and it infuriates me to see the untold wreckage of women’s souls at the hands of these “Patriarchs.” NO ONE has the right to speak for God and yet these assholes do it constantly with no shame, believing it’s their divine right to lord their selfish, ego-driven vomitous, twisted version of Christianity over their families and other women in their communities.

    The best feeling in the world is when I get an email from a woman that says, “I did it. I kicked him out. I divorced him, I got custody of my kids, though I’m still fighting him in the courts for child support as he refuses to pay a dime, but I’m FREE! If I had known how this would feel, the freedom! I would have done this years ago! I didn’t realize the burden I was carrying daily. How could I have thought that was living? Oh sure, the money is tight and I have six kids still at home to care for, but I wouldn’t change a thing. We’re FREE.” OMG, I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve cried with and for women like these.

    THIS is why Heart’s article and posts are so necessary. Someone needs to tell the truth about the dark side of this subculture, about the “full quiver” movement, about the ones trapped there in a complicated web of truth and lies and faith and deception. ((((hugs)))) to you, Heart, because I know, I KNOW this article took you to some bad places. Revisiting them, even from the perspective you have now, cannot have been easy. But NO they will not silence us and I fucking dare them to try.

    Love you, woman. SO much.

    Posted by Ginny | November 16, 2006, 10:34 pm
  24. Heart,

    Re: Valerie. Is there a way you could confirm this for us?

    Michael Metzler

    Posted by Michael Metzler | November 16, 2006, 11:19 pm
  25. Why? What’s up.

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2006, 11:42 pm
  26. I linked to this post, and as an aside I asked if this was really the Valerie on Wilson’s blog. I got the following note and published it:

    “Heart describes her as blonde, but Valerie (Kyriosity) is brunette. She can’t be Valerie Barrett, as Valerie (Kyriosity) has, to my knowledge, never been married. It’s not at all clear to me that the life story of Valerie (Kyriosity) is being referred to at all. . . . ”

    Its not that important, and Valerie can correct this herself once she gets word; however, it would be productive for many of us if you could confirm the two Valeries are the same person.

    Michael Metzler

    Posted by Michael Metzler | November 17, 2006, 1:33 am
  27. I see– I thought barlow was saying that the Valerie Barrett who said I should have been executed was not the same person whose husband got his license to practice law suspended, not that she is not the same person whose post I referenced on Doug Wilson’s blog. If the Valerie Barrett on Doug Wilson’s blog has no children, then she is indeed not the Valerie B. who was married to Tim who thought I should go straight to the stoning pit, do not pass go. I apologize for the confusion– I did think the Valerie Barrett on Wilson’s blog was the same Valerie Barrett. The reference to blonde and brunette had me confused, too– I am the blonde in the post about OJ Simpson– I don’t recall making references to blondes in the Patriarchs post, but if I did, it wasn’t about Valerie Barrett, either in Virginia or at Doug Wilson’s church!
    Well, Doug Wilson is interesting. He wasn’t a direct part of my excommunication, that I know of, though he and his wife were, if I’m recalling correctly, long-time subscribers to my publication. His Credenda/Agenda was just beginning to make its presence known around the time I was put out. When I published the last issue of my old publication — I managed to publish once after I was excommunicated and before I filed my lawsuit — he did get a lick in, as I recall, quoted me and said something derogatory about it. It used to be up on his site when he had the “old, ugly” issues there, but I just looked and I don’t see that link anymore. Here’s something that I think sucks rocks. I’ve watched these guys periodically over the years, although for the last three or four years, I’ve kind of left all that stuff behind and so haven’t kept as up to speed as I did before. By “these guys,” I mean the Reformed/Reconstructionist/dominionist/primitive Baptist/Sovereign Grace contingent. I have noted that Wilson entered into his share of difficulties, what with an attorney, at some point, openly pontificating on about Old Testament/Judaic/Deutoronomic law being binding today, and then I noted he had some difficulties with pedophiles, either at his church or at an affiliated school, and concomitant bad press. These are experiences which ought to humble people, but I’m not seeing that with Wilson so far. What sucks is, I noted in a recent issue of Credenda, he said that although he would never elect these two men to any sort of governing board in the church (and he used different words but that was the gist), they nevertheless had done more to influence him than most of the men he has ever read, and then he named Robert Farrar Capon and Rene Girard. You know what? If you appreciate these men — as anybody, anybody should — then you ought to have the courage to say so. It also might behoove you to say something about where you heard about these men. To my knowledge, in my old world, until my excommunication, nobody ever mentioned either of these men. During and after my excommunication I and the man I was dating, then married, made reference to them, actually quoted copiously from them in various venues. I then began seeing all sorts of references to them– usually along these same lines, “Well, they are heretics, but they do say some good things, but don’t confuse me with them! I’m one of the few,the proud, the patriarchs!” Huh. That world needs many, many many more such “heretics”, and people bold enough to recognize how badly that world needs “heretics.”
    Well, more than you asked for, I guess!

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2006, 3:52 am
  28. And I love you, Ginny.
    Thanks for writing that. I had blocked patriarchs “disciplining” their wives from my mind, haven’t thought about that for ages. But one thing I remember is reading a discussion like that on either Phil Lancaster’s old Patriarch boards or Bruce Murch’s boards, before they were password protected, probably Murch’s boards, and observing the moderator reacting to the issues raised not by saying, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re advocating for beating your wives as ‘discipline,’ buy a clue!,” but, “Let’s take this discussion off the boards, just what we need, someone coming across the patriarchs discussing wife-spanking.”
    You know, now that I’m remembering this, something I’ve thought of again and again and again over the years is the way the arguments for men’s “headship”and women’s “submission” in these circles, all the way to “domestic discipline” (as it’s called) are completely in sync with arguments for bdsm. It’s the same language. The arguments are identical. The issues are exactly the same. Women out of the patriarchy movement understand bdsm very well, though they may never have heard of it in that language. When they hear us, as feminists, discussing bdsm and why it is so destructive and harmful, they often break down, cry, are so, so relieved because for the first time they have words and language to describe their experience, to make sense of how debilitating and degrading, humiliating it was.
    Well, I love you, Sophia.

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2006, 4:06 am
  29. Heart I am sorry if I am overstepping the boundries here but if you will allow
    I belong to a discussion board for people concerned with ‘cults’. Now I am not for one minute describing your experiences with ‘quiver’ as cultic. There is no central register any where in the world which ctagorises what is and isnt a cult, it is really a matter of opinion, but there are some eminent psycologists who have tried to set up a set of criteria for recognising what is and isn’t cultic.
    I have however seen many people emerging from highly controllling groups, some of which are regualrly described as ‘cults’ who express the same feelings which you have described.
    The Rick Ross site and Alan Hassan’s ‘freedom of mind’ site all have resources which are aimed at helping pople make sense of what has happened to them.
    Again please do not think I am saying you have been in a ‘cult’, I just believe there may be resources there which may help you on your road to recovery.

    Posted by Corneilius | November 17, 2006, 9:17 am
  30. As an outsider, this is the first time that I, an educated (Engineering) mixed race Christian male from the Pacific Northwest has heard of this entire…. well, to be frank, stupidity.

    Everyone I have mentioned it to (and no one else has heard of it either!) has had the reaction that the entire idea sounds stupid, and that women shouldn’t even bother with men who have such idiotic ideas.

    Take it as a sign of hope, that many members of the current young generation find no sense in these cults. Yes they are cults. Any time psychological pressure is used to keep people under control and in situations that are physically and mentally harmful, it is a cult.

    Oh, and to finish my mini-rant up: Any person who is unwilling to admit to their beliefs in public, has no right to be practicing those beliefs in private. God never advocated secret societies… I do believe the Bible has a few lessons in it about standing up for what one believes in even if it leads to death though!

    Congratulations to all the women out there who have realized the truth about what their manipulative husbands and church leaders were doing. I wish you all the best of luck in educating others so that they may have the same understanding.

    Posted by Devlin Bentley | November 17, 2006, 3:12 pm
  31. What ever happened to the time when women were revered and viewed as powerful for their ability to give birth?

    I read that Newsweek article. I have to say I was disturbed by all the militant language used, especially in reference as children to “arrows of God.” Reminds me directly of the new documentary “Jesus Camp,” which I haven’t seen yet, but really want to.

    There’s a lot of scary stuff with fundamentalism, Christian or otherwise, and I want to thank you, Heart, for sharing. The more we know, the more we can use that knowledge to do something to stop abuse and abusive cultures.

    Posted by eirsinitiate | November 17, 2006, 3:16 pm
  32. I was briefly involved with and lived with some folks who were homechurching, homeschooling, “full quiver”, wifely submission, voices of the patriarchs people and for a time I did buy into that system – probably because it felt very comfortable to me as someone who endured terror and abuse in my home growing up. I have absolutely no doubt that the kind of borderline psychosis that infuses countless families with ongoing domestic violence problems is the same psychosis that leads people into and keeps people in spiritually abusive groups who demand unquestioning obedience while delivering the threat of eternal punishment for expressing individuality. These groups are sick to their core and are not, I believe, representative in any way of the kind of life that Jesus Christ imparts to the faithful. Am I saying that these people have no faith? No. But their faith is not a healthy faith and their understanding of God has been warped by their own psychological problems.

    Even though my involvement with these people was relatively brief, I suffered for several years with the inability to simply “be myself.” I said what was proper to say, dressed as was proper to dress, listened to, watched and spent time around only that which was “proper” according to the abusive authorities around whom I had built my spiritual life (including the Pearls). I was afraid that if I liked anything “bad” or disallowed, that I was a bad Christian and that my salvation was in jeopardy.

    What it took for me to leave this group was the couple whose home I lived in saying to me after a couple of months that they expected me to obey the wife – a woman my age – (I was paying room and board to them) and that we would be like “Ruth and Naomi.” I told them right then that I was their sister but not their handmaiden and wasted no time in leaving.

    It took several years to recover myself, and when under stress I sometimes revert to that thinking – “Is this okay?”. Because no one in my family is Christian and my own background had included witchcraft and lesbianism, in the initial stages of my Christianity, I had reacted against my past by going to the opposite extreme, which was not really an opposite at all but a parallel within a different paradigm.

    I share this now for two reasons. Firstly, as a warning to those who are being drawn into spiritually abusive groups within Christianity because they are psychologically vulnerable and secondly, to say that recovering from spiritual abuse and personal error in faith does not always result in a disavowal of love for Jesus Christ.

    I have met many people who have been unspeakably harmed by the mind-robbing, soul-battering excesses of spiritual abuse. While there is no doubt that those who lead the charge in these groups are sick, it must be recognized that the people who are drawn to them are often sick themselves, and that ALL parties involved need help.

    Bitterness, it should be said, keeps a person sick and it would be such a great, great shame if the damage done in those groups continued to direct and shape the lives of those who have made it out, simply because they were unable to forgive and make room in their lives for a truly fresh start. It is hard to trust a person in authority after such an ordeal, but there are patient and kindhearted people out there who are not out to prove their spiritual superiority or impose their version of Christian faith. Help is available.


    Posted by Myrrh | November 17, 2006, 4:04 pm
  33. On the other hand, forgiveness isn’t always necessary, especially not if it requires some emotional or energy cost. Actually, I wouldn’t advise anybody to forgive anyone if they don’t want to. I have seen that it can benefit the abuser to be forgiven, and that already is a reason not to.

    Posted by saltyC | November 17, 2006, 6:57 pm
  34. Great thoughts in this thread.

    Eiersinitiate, very true about the war imagery among the theonomists/dominionists. They view themselves as engaged in battle for souls, ground, loyalties, governments. I think I read that “Jesus Camp” had been taken off the market?
    Myrrh, I really like a lot of what you say there; I’m glad you were able to walk away from abusive spirituality and make peace with your experiences.

    I may be misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you’re saying that being a lesbian or into witchcraft as you were in your past are comparable with being a member of abusive/totalist/cultic groups, just within a different paradigm. Without knowing your own experiences, I would have to say that being a lesbian is a matter of who a woman loves and/or of to whom she devotes her energies and her time. There is no singular definition of “witchcraft” — there are as many expressions of wicca as there are women. I have heard of wiccan groups which were hierarchical and in some instances abusive, but they are the exception and not the rule. In general, wiccans oppose hierarchy and are anti-authoritarian. I am trying to figure out, then, how loving women and/or being devoted to women (which is all lesbianism is) and witchcraft (with the possible exception of aberrant or totalist groups) would be “parallel” with the theonomy, dominionism, or the full quiver movement, for which hierarchy and authoritarianism are central and defining. Spiritual abuse is pretty much built into those systems; it is, iow, systemic to those groups because hierarchy, power over, are unavoidable, and required. There is no spiritual abuse inherent or central to lesbianism or wicca, even if there are individual wiccans or lesbians who are spiritually or otherwise abusive.

    As to forgiveness, here are some paragraphs from one of the best articles I’ve ever read about it, published in On the Issues, a feminist magazine of the 80s and 90s which was edited by John Stoltenberg, Andrea Dworkin’s partner and husband. I published the link to this article on my first website, back in 1995-6, shortly after I’d been excommunicated; it was in the Fall 1995 issue of OTI. It gave me great comfort and was a huge relief. I haven’t thought about it in years, probably, but reading your (and others’ here) thoughts on forgiveness and salty’s response brought the article to mind. Having re-read it, it’s a great and fresh today as it was 10 years ago, to me. (Bolds mine, mostly for the benefit of those who don’t have time to read the whole thing, to get to the gist of it, although the entire article is well worth reading.)


    The Politics of Forgiveness: How the Christian Church Guilt-Trips Survivors
    By Fred Keene

    …The virtue of “forgiving those who harm us” is part of Christianity’s pervasive legacy to Western culture. It is invariably attributed to the teachings of Jesus as found in the Christian Bible. Ironically, though, there is absolutely no scriptural basis for this notion of interpersonal forgiveness.

    What the New Testament does say is that people with more power should forgive people with less power — or, as in the case of the first-century Christian communities, people should forgive each other because they are social equals (“brothers and sisters”). Nowhere in the Christian Bible is forgiveness even discussed, much less required, when the person who is harmed is less powerful than the person doing the harming.

    …If Jesus never said to forgive those more powerful, then why is the idea of unconditional, bottom-up forgiveness so firmly embedded in church teaching? And how has this doctrine become such a commonplace in Western culture? One can only guess, of course, but part of the problem seems to stem from confusing Jesus’ teaching to “love your enemies” with the fictional “forgive those who have done you harm.” (That mixup not only mistakes the New Testament idea of forgiveness; it gets the New Testament meaning of love wrong as well.)

    Protecting Hierarchy

    But there is another, more political reason for preaching to the less powerful that they should forgive unconditionally: It protects the powerful. If a person with more power — whether familial or ecclesiastical or economic — does something harmful to another, it is very convenient to have the dominant religion teach that the person harmed must forgive the wrong. If the person harmed will not do so, then that person can be shamed and blamed for being “unforgiving,” and responsibility for the crime can be shifted from the perpetrator to the victim.

    This nonscriptural switch has proven extremely useful to the church. Having taught for centuries the necessity of forgiving one’s abuser, the church now uses the doctrine to protect abusive clergy, making survivors of clerical sexual abuse feel at fault. It is no coincidence that the very word hierarchy, in its Greek root, means “priestly (hier-) power structure (-archy).”

    The original first-century Christians seem to have thought of themselves as communities of equals. Particularly unusual for ancient organizations, these communities even had women leaders (several are named in the New Testament: Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla). But as these early Christian churches became more organized and institutionalized, trying to become more accepted in the ancient society and culture, they became more hierarchical. The idea of unconditional interpersonal forgiveness turned into a useful management tool for church leaders, who could insist that if they abused their power they had to be forgiven by those they harmed — and without paying any penalty.

    When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and then dominated Europe until relatively modern times, this idea of forgiveness became ever more entrenched. For anyone in a position of power, secular or religious, it was a pretty good scam.

    The church’s preaching of forgiveness has proven useful for preserving all sorts of power structures, and it has crept into much contemporary counseling and therapy as well. If a husband beats his wife or a father rapes his daughter, for instance, the perpetrator-friendly forgiveness dictum is sure to come up. The husband may be bigger and stronger, and the father the dominant adult in the daughter’s life, but the beaten wife and the raped daughter are still supposed to forgive. In the rare cases when they are not made to feel guilty about not forgiving, they are told that it is unhealthy for them to fail to forgive. The church’s forgiveness dictum — now in the guise of “mental health” — continues to lead countless counselees and analysands into further pain.

    If the actual New Testament teachings were applied, the result would be quite different. In the New Testament, the only way a person can forgive is to become no longer the weaker party in the relationship. Either the survivor must be raised up to equal power, or else the abuser must be stripped of power. One way or another, the former power relationships must no longer exist.

    …Some Christian churches teach that the husband is “in charge” in a marriage. This authoritarian model has been a basis for allowing wife-beating. It has also been the basis for repunishing battered women, who are made to feel it is their wifely duty to forgive a husband’s “abuse of authority.” But according to the core meaning of interpersonal forgiveness in the text of the New Testament, no husband can be “in charge” and be forgiven at the same time. There can only be interpersonal forgiveness within a marriage of equals.

    Making Justice

    Several years ago, I wrote a paper exploring the theme of forgiveness as it is portrayed in the New Testament. The paper grew out of my reading in New Testament scholarship, and out of Hannah’s and my experience with her healing from having been sexually abused. The paper was generally well received by everyone with the exception of one group: white male clergy. Almost to a man, they rejected the idea that to be forgiven a person must give up power within an abusive relationship. They especially disliked the conclusion that abusive clergy should be stripped of their ordination.

    Those who object to the idea that abusers must give up power often raise the idea of “repentance.” Just as abusive clergy often express sorrow and remorse (at least when they are caught), wife-beaters are notorious for saying they are sorry, in order to get their wives to take them back (at least until next time). But these are empty expressions of contrition. Actual repentance (as spelled out in Christian Scripture) requires a real, substantive change. The Greek word for repentance in the New Testament is metanoia, which means “a reversal” or “turning around.” Remorse is not enough; metanoia, repentance, means that the power relationship has to change. The abusers — the perpetrators of pain and injustice — must no longer have the power to continue their abuse. Put simply, the meaning of repentance is the giving up of power.

    There are two approaches to implementing this concept of repentance. The one that first occurred to me when I started working with questions of forgiveness was that the person with power must give it up — or have it taken away. When I discussed this with Rev. Marie M. Fortune, she told me she saw it differently. As founder and director of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, an interreligious educational ministry based in Seattle, Rev. Fortune has devoted most of her career to fighting sexual violence. She advocated “justice-making as a prerequisite to forgiveness.” She saw justice-making as efforts to “help empower those rendered powerless by abuse so that forgiveness becomes an option.” In other words, I wanted to take the power away from the perpetrator, and Rev. Fortune wanted to give power to the survivor.

    …Certainly it is neither useless nor unhealthy for people to forgive. People often need to let go of their pain in order to heal. But letting go must not mean letting those who hurt them off the hook. No survivor should be guilt-tripped into forgiving. No survivor should be expected to forgive before ready to do so. And if a survivor does not or cannot forgive, the perpetrator should not become an object of sympathy.

    Fred Keene is a mathematician in California who also writes frequently on Christian biblical theology. He adapted this article for On The Issues from his scholarly essay “Structures of Forgiveness in the New Testament,” just published in Violence Against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook, edited by Carol J. Adams and Marie M. Fortune (Continuum). Fred sometimes joins his wife, Hannah Abigail Keene, in presenting workshops on issues of religion and sexual violence.


    The entire article is here.

    I think sometimes we don’t forgive, and we can move on in our lives without bitterness anyway. I think where the structures of power can be rearranged such that forgiveness is an option for a violated person, then it’s good if she finds herself able to forgive, for all sorts of reasons. I think, though, that where the structures of power, or relational power dynamics, cannot be rearranged to allow for forgiveness — the victim made equal with the perp — then for the violated person to attempt to “forgive” her more-powerful perpetrator is for her to be re-violated.

    As for having gone through experiences of spiritual abuse and violation without disavowing one’s love for Jesus Christ, my experience is that disavowing, or avowing, once you’ve avowed, isn’t really something a person can do by fiat, by an act of the will. I have knocked myself out, if you want to know the truth, to disavow Jesus Christ and all of Christianity. I have done some really impressive raging into the universe, and turning of the back on, too. I am a radical feminist. I live by my own lights, by my own integrity, values, and ethics, and I apologize to no one for these. But here is a truth: the faith clings to me. (And for that eloquent and perfect description of what happens for so many of us who have walked this road, I have to give credit to Ginny in this thread.) I don’t cling. I don’t try. I have done the precise opposite of trying and clinging. Still, the faith doesn’t let go of me. That is a core and central lesson of all I have gone through. I don’t think anyone, but least of all a violated woman, has to worry about disavowing God or Jesus or leaving the faith, or turning the back on God, all of that stuff– those are things that men, and the powerful, ought to be concerning themselves with in their own lives and work. For violated women, though, this is so much will worship, I think, taking on responsibilities which break and harm instead of mend and heal. I think there is a certain rest we find ourselves entering into, as violated women, which is of a whole different order.

    Well, that’s enough for now.


    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2006, 8:02 pm
  35. Heart,
    First, let me say that this whole movement really infuriates me. Have grown up in an area with many Christian fundamentalists, it doesn’t really surprise me that people believe these things. What does surprise me is how organized these groups are.

    What I’m curious about how these groups deal with infertility? What happens if a couple is unable to have a bazillion kids? Do they excommnicate people for this? I’m assuming that even if a guy has defective sperm that women get blamed for this. But if God is supposedly the only person who can exercise birth control then you would think they wouldn’t have a problem with infertility, but I do not believe that would be the case.

    Posted by Rachel | November 17, 2006, 8:15 pm
  36. Typo–should read “Having grown up….”

    And “If God is the only ONE…” (not PERSON)

    Posted by Rachel | November 17, 2006, 8:18 pm
  37. Rachel– no, people aren’t excommunicated for this; they are called “barren,” and are faced with rows of books about dealing with “barrenness.” :/ They are encouraged to adopt, to have foster children, to be part of the lives of other people’s children, and, depending on the group, sometimes they are urged to undergo treatments for infertility and to attempt IVF, etc. James Dobson even has a “snowflakes” program, or supports it, which is all about Christian women rescuing frozen embryos and having them implanted with the hope of pregnancy lest the embryo get too old and die or be destroyed. 😦 People who have had vasectomies or tubal ligations are urged to get them surgically reversed and there are fundie doctors who do this for very low rates or even free. Privately, women who can’t have children often suffer, believing they are being punished for their own sins or for “generational sin,” (the sins of their fathers and mothers, basically). They are pitied by the full quiver crowd. It gets really extreme at times; I’ve known women with 5-10 kids who got panicky when they didn’t conceive again after one or two post-birth menstrual periods, fearing “secondary” infertility. :/ To be fair, there are women in the Bible who could not have children who were viewed as virtuous, (“Rachel, weeping for her children”; Sarah, wife of Abraham until she had Isaac) and they are trotted out to comfort infertile women. These women aren’t exactly judged. But they are expected to center their lives around home, husband, father, family, children even if they are infertile.

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2006, 8:26 pm
  38. Cheryl, I read your interview a couple nights ago. I shouldn’t have done that before going to bed. Didn’t sleep well. It’s troubled me ever since. Such incredible betrayal. It’s hard for me to even know what to say to you, other than I’m so sorry for what happened to you and I’m praying for you and your family.

    SaltyC, it doesn’t get any more personally self-destructive than bitterness. The danger of unforgiveness is that it often leads to bitterness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we condone another’s sins. It also doesn’t mean that we need to go to them and tell them, “I forgive you.” Sometimes that’s a good thing to do. I’ve done it with a lot of people and it often releases God’s Holy Spirit to go and convict them. I’ve known people that I’ve told, “I forgive you” to then not be able to sleep for days. Then they finally crack and ask forgiveness (even though I already forgave them). Forgiveness is very powerful, but the most important thing is what it does in freeing us! I agree though that we have to be careful who we say “I forgive you to.” With some people you’re just better off forgiving them privately and keeping it between you and God.

    “Because no one in my family is Christian and my own background had included witchcraft and lesbianism, in the initial stages of my Christianity, I had reacted against my past by going to the opposite extreme, which was not really an opposite at all but a parallel within a different paradigm.”

    That’s an all too common story Myrrh. We’re all vulnerable to going from one extreme to the other (not that being a straight married Christian isn’t a much healthier life than being a lesbian witch). Going from one extreme to the other is our natural inclination. We need to avoid the extremes, including getting sucked into cultish groups with cultish abusive control freak leaders that masquerade as Christian ministers.

    We ourselves are a full quiver family (whatever that’s supposed mean). We home school, and I say “we” because it’s not all just dumped on my wife, although there’s no question but that she does an incredible job. My wife and daughters cook wonderful healthy meals, including baked goods and whole grain breads. We live rurally and we’re quasi-agrarian. I mentor my sons in how to be godly men that show honor and respect to women, and I do my best to model what it means to be a good and loving husband.

    There’s a huge temptation in full quiver families to put on a front — to have the right image. It’s not hard to tell what’s behind it — pride. I’m vulnerable to it too. It feels good to be out in public, say at a restaurant, and so often have strangers come up and say, “My what a lovely family. You’re children are so well behaved and they seem so happy. How do you do it?” My wife is out with the kids more than I am, so it happens even more with her. Getting puffed up is a real temptation that we constantly have to watch out for. Pride is so deadly.

    I’m afraid however that we’ve known a lot of full quiver families that aren’t as conscientious about guarding their hearts. So they’re just drawn deeper and deeper into whatever it is that they think will bring them just that right image of “family success.” It becomes a religion in itself, and it’s a Pharisaical religion — the most spiritually deadly kind. It then becomes easy to start judging others — they just don’t measure up.

    Ironically enough I just came across an article written about that very thing. It’s authored by Jay Barfield. Mr. Barfield used to be Pastor Barfield, but he was defrocked along with RC Sproul Jr earlier this year. I’d like to say that his article may have come about because of being humbled by the defrocking, but I don’t know. I do know that he didn’t do the honorable thing and leave the pastorate for his abuses of the Austin family at Saint Peter Church, and I don’t think he’s ever repented to the Austins about it either (I’m sure the Austins would have said so on their blog if he had). He and Sproul just slid into Doug Wilson’s little boutique confederation the CREC as though they’d never been defrocked. Nevertheless Barfield’s article is a good one: Worshipping Idols, Family Style

    Cheryl we never subscribed to Gentle Spirit but based on what I’ve heard I’m sure we would’ve enjoyed it. The fact is though Cheryl that I’ve always a dim view of the self-help approach, and that’s what I consider all those books and magazines to be. We’ve never subscribed to a home school/prairie muffin/full quiver/patriarchy magazine and we probably never will. The answers we need are all in the Word.

    It’s not that we don’t read. We do a lot of reading. But experience has taught us that a lot of that self-help stuff is written by people who need a huge amount of help themselves — “Physician heal thyself.” You’ve mentioned RC Sproul Jr, Phil Lancaster, Doug Phillips, etc. Those are prime examples of men who have no business telling me how to govern my family. Their family and church lives are a mess (although they do an effective job of not letting that get out publicly).

    It’s not that they’re insincere. I think they really do believe what they’re pushing, and a lot of what they’re pushing is, in principle, a good thing. It’s just that it’s too often taken to extremes, and anything in an extreme can turn bad. Rather than being balanced in their approach so much of what they do is extremist — “Some is good, more must be better.”

    I don’t know what motivates these guys but they like any of us are creatures of our upbringing. Perhaps they grew up in a home where mom was abusive to dad, and maybe the kids too — whining, griping, nagging, belittling, shouting, angry. Women can be cruel just like men can be cruel. So they grow up resenting cruel women, or maybe even just women in general. They become misogynists. Except they’re Christians, so they have to figure out a “loving” way to be a misogynist, or at least make it look like it’s “loving.” Then they hear about what the Bible says about wives submitting to husbands. They latch onto that — with a vengeance. They go from one extreme to the other. If they’re given a podium they’ll preach it and insist that everyone must live by their extremist interpretation of the Bible.

    I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, and that our Heavenly Father loves us. Therefore there’s nothing in God’s Word that could harm us. However there are many men who twist and distort and preach extremist interpretations that can be very hurtful. Sick men cannot preach a healthy Gospel.

    Posted by Frank Vance | November 17, 2006, 9:44 pm
  39. Frank Vance, I appreciate your respectful tone– understand, though, that this is a woman-centered blog and the regulars here are a stunning collection of radical feminists, feminists of other kinds, lesbians, lesbian separatists, women (and a few men) who are supportive of all of the above, and so on. This isn’t in any way, shape or form a Christian blog intended for any sort of Christian discussion (and I don’t mean to be abrupt, it’s just that, conservative/Bible-literalist discussions are not what we’re about in here.) Some women who read and comment here, including radical feminists and lesbians, do identify as Christians; there also are people like me, who have fled Christianity but dagnab it, it keeps hounding us and hanging on to our coattails ;), but in general, this isn’t a blog which is favorable to Christian commentary of the kind you’ve posted. (And I realize you may not have realized that– this comment is as much meant to be a heads up to others reading as it is to let you know what we’re about.) I think the article I posted is responsive to what you have posted about bitterness and forgiveness. Again, I mean no disrespect, but it isn’t appropriate for any Christian man, or for that matter, any man, period, to be telling women here, in the comments section of the blog, that we ought to be forgiving or that we shouldn’t be bitter or that we should do anything. Please, read the article I posted carefully and you will understand where I’m coming from.

    In fact, I, and I think I could safely say most regular readers and commenters here, believe being a lesbian witch *is*, in general, all things being equal, going to be a much healthier life than being a married Christian wife (particularly a married conservative Christian wife)! Sorry, but it’s true. And I am writing this with a smile on my face– a kind smile, not a scoffing smile. We’re not really fans of any kind of marriage much, most of us, not much fans of heterosexuality as it’s traditionally understood (and forced on women), not much fans of traditional anything.

    Again, I realize you may have jumped in not realizing what we’re about here.

    So, anyway. To all men who are reading: Please, no comments about how great Christianity is, how great heterosexual married life is, how great heterosexuality is, how great a guy you are (nobody has done that yet, just saying), how great you are in the sack, all caring about your wife (a guy DID comment to that effect and I spammed his post), what God’s word says, what the Bible says, telling us that we “should” be doing/believing anything at all, especially anything having to do with the Bible. We have our own beliefs and views which matter deeply to us, we love who we love, many of us believe and practice goddess spirituality, some or us are wiccan, and so on. Okay? You are free to comment respectfully, but realize: when you post here, you are, again, talking to women who are all about being committed radical feminists, lesbians, lesbian separatists, wiccans, goddess worshippers — We are the women they’ve warned you about! Mwa ha ha!. 🙂 Actually, we’re really nice. Generally. But we’re still all of the above, or support all of the above. Even though one or two of us are still ALSO, at the same time as we are radical feminist lesbian separatist wiccans, Christians! It happens. 🙂

    Anyway. One reason I approved your comment was, you helped me connect some dots I hadn’t connected. I had no idea that R.C. Sproul and Barfield, forgot his first name, sorry, moved to Doug Wilson’s group. I wondered how they got accepted into another community so quickly– usually that doesn’t happen in Reformed circles, if yer out, yer out, and there is tremendous solidarity amongst all those who kicked you out.

    So that is interesting. And makes sense.


    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2006, 11:26 pm
  40. Whoa…Mr. Vance just brought along a time machine! Whoosh! There I went, back to standing toe-to-toe against the “bad” legalistic Christians and trying to show myself to be one of the “good” kind. Such a freaking headache banging one’s head against that particular brick wall. I mean there you are trotting out chapter and verse about grace and love and so on and so forth and they stare at you blankly and go, “Why should I listen to you? You’re spouting heresy!” I believe I was called an “existential heretic” specifically. Heh. I now consider that a compliment. Even then I considered it humorous. Suffice it to say that my argumentive Biblical citing days are over and while I don’t think Frank was doing any of that, it just took me for a ride. Wheee!

    The healthiest kind of life is one where the boundaries are questioned, pushed at, tinkered with. Extremes? Nah, they’re not so bad. I’ve gone past the edges a lot in my life and have learned so much at either end. The “middle road” tends to be safe but rather monotonous. Life is for the living and extreme living is sometimes just the thing to do. What I’ve learned, having come out of the box labeled “Christian” is that there are just as many, if not more, dangers within that box than outside of it. The danger is that when something is labeled “Christian” it carries with it the aura of “safety” when in fact it might be the most destructive thing in the world. Being outside the box means I keep my bullshit detector on high and I scrutinize much more closely that which is being passed off as real and genuine and “safe.” One might even say I tune in to that “still, small voice” much more because of this reality. And here’s what I’ve found: being healthy is being genuine and true to oneself. Being healthy means calling out those who hurt you, and separating yourself from them, too.

    And as for there not being anything hurtful in God’s Word, I beg you to read it again…from a woman’s perspective if you will, and count the times a woman must twist the words to fit her own experience. Count the times a woman is called a “brother” and her sisters “brethren.” Look at the stories of women being dismembered and prostituted and treated as chattel in the Old Testament. Why is it a man must not covet his neightbor’s wife or cow? Would it be because she is his possession as well? And why is it a man can seek retribution for the rape of his wife or daughter? Because her body belongs to him? Is it not hurtful that the apostle Junia was renamed Junias and called a man to suit the male translators and that Phoebe was not called a minister as the Greek implies but a “deaconess” instead? Is it not with pain that a woman must hear she must submit to her husband as to Christ, must not speak or teach or usurp authority of any man, but must remain silent? Is it not harmful to women that their salvation must come through childbearing? And that women are seen, only women, as gossips and talebearers, wanton temptresses, and bringers of ruin? Oh believe me, all by itself the Bible, being the work of men, predominantly, and of a very patriarchal culture, has much in it that harms and hurts women. Does God want it so? No, I do not believe that. Therefore yes, I hear Her speak through Sophia, the Wisdom of God. I hear it when God says, ” I am not a human male like you.” I hear it when Jesus calls men out and says — if you do unto the least of these, you have done unto me. Least of these? Yeah…the bottom of the totem pole, the women and children. I hear it when he tells only women who he really is, and a woman is the first one to see his resurrected self. There are some redeeming shout outs to women in the Bible, but you have to dig to find them.

    In any case, no…this isn’t about all that. It’s about how dangerous the Christian Religious Right is to women. Period. It’s about how Cheryl stands as an example to how low they will go to push their agenda. Did they think for one freaking second that by them cutting off her only source of income they were cutting off her children, too? Did they believe themselves righteous for sheltering that family’s abuser? And wasn’t it just fine and dandy when they conspired to get her mailing list and substitute one of their pre-approved publications to her subscribers thereby inflating their own subscriber bases? Their goal is, in short, to take over the world. No shit. It’s true. And to replace the government with a Theocracy or “Theonomy.” Which, of course, we can see how well that’s worked out for women in places like the Middle East and Afghanistan, right?

    So it’s not just a matter of shaking our heads and going, “I wonder what’s wrong with these men? Were they even breastfed as infants?” Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass how they got to be where they are, I just want them stopped, called out. Because MUCH of what they do, teach, and organize is done privately. The boards are exclusive. I know because I was a member there for a few short weeks and after I was booted off for being a heretical feminist, they quickly made their boards invisible to anyone not a member. Not only can the public not post there, we can’t even read there. The heinous sexist, racist, homophobic claptrap is behind closed doors, quietly gathering support and momentum while so many are blissfully unaware. Damn…at least the KKK march in parades. We know what they’re all about.

    It’s disturbing because these men are high ranking people with access to power. They have meetings with the President, for God’s sake. This is no personal axe grinding, no way. This is real, this is scary, and if it isn’t taken seriously there will be hell to pay for women especially.

    Posted by Ginny | November 18, 2006, 3:45 am
  41. “These women aren’t exactly judged. But they are expected to center their lives around home, husband, father, family, children even if they are infertile.”

    That is really interesting. There is a part of me that is happy not to be in southern Ohio anymore, but the other part of me is reminded that there are many women who are being abused and are suffering in these situations and moving away from it or forgetting about it doesn’t stop it.

    Posted by Rachel | November 18, 2006, 5:26 am
  42. Rachel– I would love to see you use your considerable skills and insight on behalf of this community of women! These are women who are by and large invisible, and by and large, abused. 😦

    Ginny– damn you’re good, girl. Whoa. Ginny in full effect. I have missed that!

    It’s disturbing because these men are high ranking people with access to power. They have meetings with the President, for God’s sake. This is no personal axe grinding, no way. This is real, this is scary, and if it isn’t taken seriously there will be hell to pay for women especially.

    No kidding. We are talking here, in part, about people who regularly meet with the President of the United States. Who author bills which get signed off and which women, especially, must then deal with, live with.

    It’s incredible, when you think about it. I am posting here about what these men are about, and what seems to be most important to the Christians who read is, “You have to forgive! Don’t be bitter!” As though women’s “bitterness” or “unforgiveness” is some issue.

    And yes, as to the defendants’ in my lawsuit egregious behavior– not only attempting to get my mailing list, so as to substitute their own publications for mine, but in maintaining ongoing telephone contact, for a full year, with my abuser ex, who was *living with the pastor who excommunicated me*. Living carefree, I might add. I had the kids, the business, the bills, the mortgage.

    This is what women have to look forward to should the goals of the Religious Right be realized. It’s not about our bitterness or unforgiveness. It’s about their agendas, their acts, the real things they are doing in the real world which, in material ways, harm women and children and, in the end, men too.


    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2006, 6:44 am
  43. I wanted to say that Ginny was a subscriber to my magazine. She supported me all the way and flew out from the East Coast to testify for me at trial. She is very aware of all of the issues here.


    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2006, 6:51 am
  44. I am not a debater by nature or preference and I stumbled across this blog quite accidentally, so it is not really my intention to pull cosmological or ideological taffy here with you.

    I recognize and acknowledge your pain, the fact that your dignity and freedom as a human being were violated and that your children were harmed. That is a short sentence but by no means would I *EVER* try to minimize the pain that you have endured. My next comments are directed toward your readership in general.

    For those who view Christians as the chief cause of suffering and bigotry in the world, I would suggest taking a long hard look at the world. People are deeply and horribly flawed and they’re raping maiming and killing one another all over the world, seemingly with abandon (yes, the women too).

    In East St. Louis recently, a young woman cut the unborn child out of her 8-months-pregnant cousin, killed the cousin’s two young children, hid them in her cousin’s washing machine and then lied and said she’d given birth to a stillborn baby when the baby (what a surprise) didn’t survive. People, all people, are capable of and inclined toward getting what they want at the expense of others. No matter how skillfully we may learn to manipulate with language or ideas (yes, even ideas about sexual politics within the wimmin’s community), it is still the same impulse.

    One of the most disillusioning experiences of my early adulthood was being involved with a political consensus group who staked out a section of a public park in Seattle and led a sixth month vigil in protest of the occupation leading up to the Gulf War. The four hour consensus meetings did little to mitigate the fact that within our group, money and personal property were stolen, drug abuse was rampant, there were physical fights and ultimately, someone who became part of the group turned out to be a convicted child rapist who subsequently raped and killed a 13 year old girl who had run away from home to come protest the war. There are sick people in EVERY group, no matter how idealistic. In villifying someone else’s “tribe”, we often subconsciously avoid taking responsibility for our own failings. That is just as true on “wimmin’s land” as it is at the “bible church,” sadly (from either perspective).

    If we are able to agree only on this point, I will consider this to have been a productive exercise.


    Posted by Myrrh | November 18, 2006, 3:45 pm
  45. Heart said:
    “It’s incredible, when you think about it. I am posting here about what these men are about, and what seems to be most important to the Christians who read is, “You have to forgive! Don’t be bitter!” As though women’s “bitterness” or “unforgiveness” is some issue.”

    Well sure. Because THAT will make them stop. And you know…I remember the agonizing you went through deciding whether or not to take these flagrant assholes to court. You were still, at that time, feeling very conflicted about the idea that, as a Christian, one is not supposed to take another Christian to the secular courts. Besides, the loss you could have taken if you had not succeeded in pleading your case was HUGE. The risks you were taking in the face of death threats, suspicious attacks on your property, stalkers showing up at your door, as well as complete and utter financial ruin were just unspeakably dire. Not to mention your asshole ex filing and being granted in the courts for spousal maintenance from you, YOU (!) who was left with sole custody of all of your children, a destroyed business, mortgage, food, and everything that goes with providing for a large family while he was still receiving his pension and living rent free with the pastor and then later, his family. WTF????

    Because forgiveness will change all that. Right?

    One direct policy change that came about in the Calvary Chapel churches as a result of your lawsuit was simply more ass-covering. The main CC church in CA alerted all its branch churches around the country that they had to, from then on, call themselves Calvary Chapel “affiliates” thereby making them distinct entities from the main CC so that head honcho Chuck Smith and his organization could not be held liable nor accountable for the actions of any CC pastor in the future. Rather than tightening up accountability, they loosened it to protect their own backsides, in effect granting individual CC church pastors even more control and power over their particular congregations, not less. Good move, Chuck. As far as I know, no official censuring was done with regard to the actions of your pastor by the main CC. Smith simply disagreed with his actions and washed his hands of it.

    Forgiveness? Well, you know, that’s fine. Just fine. On a personal level it can be powerful, yeah. But on a collective level it’s like asking the indigenous peoples of America to just “forgive” the white Europeans their atrocities and be content with reservations and robbery of land and means. It’s like asking Black Americans to “just forgive” the institution of slavery and all the institutionalized racism that came as a result of that. Let it go. Don’t agitate and fight for change, just turn your cheek for the next slap, ok?

    Why does this smack of “Don’t worry your perty little head about this?”

    Posted by Ginny | November 18, 2006, 5:41 pm
  46. Myrrh, there is no question that people of all ideological affiliations are, as you say, deeply flawed and capable of horrendous acts against one another. In fact, fundamentalists come in many, many stripes, not all religious. In fact, I have fought against fundamentalism within the feminist community as well. And I don’t think anyone here has said or even thinks that Christians are “the chief cause of suffering and bigotry in the world.” No, as a radical feminist, I believe sexism to be the chief cause or root of all oppressions and injustice in the world. The institutions that prop up and continue to promote sexism and oppression of women are those institutions that contribute significantly to the continuing harm, on a global level, to women. However, as individuals, Christians themselves are no more or less likely to commit atrocities than anyone else.

    Although, statistics show that woman battering is 400% more likely in a home where power is held in male headship rather than on a more equitable basis. Since fundamentalist Christianity advocates male headship in the home, it creates an atmosphere that is ripe for abuse.

    Where these inequalities are not addressed but are held to be some kind of divine order, the proper nature of things, human beings being what we are — flawed and stumbling creatures for the most part — tend to take advantage of and assume control over others. Only, these “others,” by and large, tend to be women and children, and marginalized groups.

    Christianity is powerful and has been since Constantine made it the official religion of the Roman Empire, which, for all intents and purposes was the “world” back then. Christianity did not invent patriarchal oppression. In fact, in some convoluted ways it actually made it possible for many women to seek independent lives apart from men through its encouragement of celibacy in the beginning. Women developed all woman communities in the early days of the church that were self-supporting and allowed them freedoms to travel and work and live full lives that other, married women both inside and outside the church could not. Still, the majority of women in the Greco-Roman world, whether Christian or not, were terribly constrained by patriarchal dominance. Women were never granted full citizenship in Rome, even if some advances were made as to their rights and freedoms. As Christianity advanced as the highest level of civil government, women were increasingly restricted and oppressed, devalued and even reviled. Viewed as less than human and soulless, women were targeted and executed as witches, heretics, sinners and devils. Granted, Christianity inherited much of its patriarchal views of women from its Greco-Roman/Hebrew culture, but it took it a step further and mandated this hierarchy as divinely ordered rather than, as the Greeks viewed it, philosophical truth. One can argue with philosophical ideas, but one cannot argue with God.

    So, I think you misunderstand that we are talking here not about individuals and their capacity for evil, but about institutionalized and organized sexism from a very powerful group that trickles down to individuals and serve to justify atrocities against women both collectively and individually.

    Posted by Ginny | November 18, 2006, 6:11 pm
  47. Myrrh–

    I know you were addressing those reading this blog just generally, not me specifically, but I will respond anyway.

    I don’t believe Christians are the chief cause of bigotry and suffering in the world. I think people who think that way and order their lives on that basis and spend all their time ranting and raving about how (insert insulting word here) Christians are miss it by a country mile and are completely wrong headed. I think there have been and are some very very fine Christians in the world, and that they have done amazing amazing work: the abolitionists, many of the suffragists, Mary Dyer, Anne Hutchinson, Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jacques Ellul, Martin Luther King, closer to home and to these times, Walter Wink, Carter Heyward, Jim Wallis and the Sojourners Community, and many others. I think there are admirable individuals within all expressions of Christianity and, for that matter, within all expressions of all religions.

    I don’t believe women are more moral or virtuous than men are by nature, or that men are by nature immoral or bad in some way. I do think that compared with men, women are uncorrupted by power. Power does corrupt people. It corrupts people on the micro- level, in relationships, as we’ve discussed re men in full quiver households; it corrupts on the macro-level, in community, national, and world affairs, where it is who holds the most power who dominates and controls other human beings, creatures, money, the allocation of resources, how justice is or is not meted out. I am interested in challenging hierarchy, power imbalances which result in some being able to dominate others, whether, again, in human relationships or in governments, the marketplace, wherever.

    I think that women are capable of evil, of great destruction, no question. I think it’s interesting though to look at why the woman in your example did what she did, especially in the context of this thread. She could not have a child. For traditional women, this can be a torment like no other, and why? Because the way the world is set up, men have defined women as those persons who are born to bear children. If we don’t bear children, or can’t, we are viewed as inferior, as damaged goods, cursed. The woman whose body betrays her has no way out of that state, but one: to envision and imagine and look towards a new and different world in which a woman is not defined by what her body can do or can’t do, by what her body looks like, or especially, by its value to those who have had the power to establish the standards by which women will be evaluated, will or will not pass muster: men.

    I notice in your example of the activist work you did, a man was a pedophile and ultimately raped a young girl. This was an abuse of male power on the micro level. It is very, very common in these groups. Again, girls, children, women, the weak, are the victims of this power. As to the stealing and the substance abuse, well, yes, people steal, people abuse substances, religious or not, Christian or not, men and women, leftist, right wing, and center. I would not and have not argued otherwise, and I don’t think anyone here would. I do not believe that leftist men are in any way more trustworthy than men on the right, or that they are less misogynist, or anything like that. I think that male power has corrupted men across the political spectrum: left, center, right, all are corrupted by it. This has resulted in a world in which women and girls are not safe and cannot achieve their potential. It has resulted in a world in which what happened to me and to my children could happen — and not be completely understood or recognized by the surrounding culture until 13 years later, when we see the beliefs of those who did what they did to me and to my children being legislated by way of the very same people who did what they did to me! We’ve got a guy who has worked with David Barton’s dominionist “Wallbuilders” appointed to the task of administering the agency responsible for women’s reproductive rights in this country. We’ve got an anti-abortion law passed in Nicaragua (now under the leadership of a leftist, but devoutly Roman Catholic, president) in which WOMEN CANNOT EVEN GET AN ABORTION FOR A TUBAL PREGNANCY! They cannot seek an abortion UNTIL the tube begins to rupture. Doctors there openly say they will not spare the life of mothers over the life of babies.

    These are examples of the way power corrupts. It has corrupted men on a micro and macro scale, to wit, incest, rapes, domestic violence, spousal abuse, sexual harrassment, discrimination in the work place, all the way to the making of wars for conquest, control, domination of other countries and of the world’s resources. Women and children, creatures and the earth, are *hurt* by this. In response, I have dedicated my life to them, to us. Not because we are nicer or less violent or more noble or more good by nature or genetics or biology or divine fiat: we are not. Because we labor under a weight of violence and violation at the hands of men which we do not deserve. This is true among Christians and true in every patriarchal religion (patriarchal religion being just one mechanism by way of which men wield power in the world over women, children, creatures and the earth). I have often thought, after the massacre of the little Amish girls, about things I experienced and knew of when many of my friends were Plain People. I remember a columnist calling me to tell me her three-year-old had been raped by a 14 year old Amish boy, while all of the (large) families including parents were together in the house having fellowship. The boy was confronted by the elders and told to “repent.” That was the end. No counseling for the girl but what the parents believed she’d receive via the Bible. No justice for the little girl. And *especially*, no hope for the end of little girls being raped, by this boy who will become a man, by other boys in that world, just as the same is true outside of all expressions of all religions. Wherever men and women are together (which is everywhere but in woman-only communities) women will be raped and sexually assaulted by men. Men will use male power. In shining the light on what male power looks like and how it affects all women, and all men, what it looks like in the world, in connecting these dots, as I try to do in this blog, my hope is to raise the level of public awareness in the interest of ending “power over” — dominance hierarchies. If you want to know what I think, I think that this is what Paul (who is by far no hero of mine but still) was talking about when he said that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against “principalities and powers,” against the “rulers of the darkness of this age.” I think Paul was smack on there. I do not think every man, every leader, every Republican, Democrat, leftist or right-winger, is my enemy. I don’t even think men who make war on other men are my enemy. I think the impulse to power which guides them, which is their community (anti-) ethos is my enemy. I think their willingness to *use* power to hurt people, animals and the earth, is my enemy. And so, I write about that, and raise my voice, and lay awake nights thinking up ways to illuminate precisely the way that impulse to power and dominance works to hurt us all.

    The issue is not something like that Christians are bad or that men are bad. The issue is that in this day and age, in the United States, Christian men are sick with power. There is only one cure I know for that, and that is that they be made to see and correct the great evil their abuses of power have caused.


    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2006, 6:15 pm
  48. So how do I comment without sounding like a troll? How about just telling you that we are trying to be a “full quiver’ family and it is hard work but I love my wife and my wife loves me. Our kids are so much fun but we are not trying to break any records. We are taking them one at a time.

    My wife is in no way fearful of me. She actually enjoys my company and I hers. I do see the danger in being too home centered and we are learning and discovering what community looks like, what education looks like, what marriage looks like, what church looks like.

    And on that note I will end this and go spend some quality time with my wife cleaning the house together while the kids are napping 🙂

    Posted by Christian Burns | November 18, 2006, 10:55 pm
  49. Personally, I’d rather hear from your wife. Though I don’t doubt she’d say the same or similar things that you’re saying, I’d still rather hear from her than hear you speak for her. That’s a problem, I think, when men feel compelled to come in here and speak for women.

    Not only that, but I think it’s funny that you personalize this issue all the way down to your individual relationship instead of acknowledging the harm and damage to many within the movement. So it’s working for you, that’s great, but what about the others? Don’t you feel any responsibility to create health and positive change from within the movement? You could do that, you know, not by defending yourself, as if this was some personal attach against YOU, but by calling those out who need to be called out. Do it. I dare you.

    Posted by Ginny | November 18, 2006, 11:30 pm
  50. It seems to me as if you are still examining two different extremes, right-wing abusive patriarchs and radical feminists. Life’s best, God’s intent, lies somewhere in the middle. You talk about women loving women; God talks about women loving men and men loving women. Love, truth, respect. Isn’t that what you’re really after? It is fair to speak out against those who abuse and misuse others, who abuse and misuse the Bible even, but to suggest that women turn their backs on EVERY part of that life, and do what feels good – another extreme- is no different than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Heart, I’m very curious. I know your story up till ten years ago. It seemed then that you handled life well, or at least it came across that way publicly. May I ask what happened between then and now? What changed you to this extreme?

    Just for the record, I have SO much in common with you. My story hasn’t been told yet, but I, too, was excommunicated and abused. I did not blanketly “forgive” as if nothing had happened. i fought back, but with a spirit of forgiveness in my own soul, so that bitterness is not doing the fighting. My goal, too, is to help others in this situation, but rather than encourage them to another extreme position, I wish to encourage them to make a difference right where they are. You did, in a way, in your lawsuit. There’s no way of knowing how many were protected at that time because of what you did.

    So, yes, let’s make a difference, but toward the right way, not toward another extreme.

    Posted by Jen | November 19, 2006, 12:50 am
  51. I read that you were excommunicated. From what church or organization? I am an orthodox christian man and people are rarely excommunicated in our jurisdiction. I enjoy your writing and am sorry to hear that you were excommunicated. Jesus Christ never excommunicated anyone. He gave his own body and blood so that we could learn to love ourselves and each other and God. As for the “Religious Right” they mostly are the “Pharisaical Wrong”. Protestantism, Puritanism and Nostalgic Nationalism are not christianity. The RR always seeks to show how well they do things and to be standard bearers while Christ loves and exists whether you recognize or believe, love or hate what He is. His “standard” is the pouring out of his very life for us. In christianity there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female.” Please do not assocate my faith with something so far removed from the Gospel as the Religious Right! -Kevin

    Posted by Lil Kevin | November 19, 2006, 2:30 am
  52. Sorry to hear your story. Revolting, but hardly unsurprising.

    The sheer vile egotism of the current Talibangelicals just more Satanism masquerading as Christianity.

    Posted by No Blood for Hubris | November 19, 2006, 5:17 am
  53. Jen said: “Life’s best, God’s intent, lies somewhere in the middle.”

    Because you know, that Jesus, he was really middle of the road. Not at all a radical in any way. He advocated moderation in everything. Go halfway, not all the way. Kinda lay your life down for others, just sorta, but don’t be ridiculous, you know?

    “but to suggest that women turn their backs on EVERY part of that life, and do what feels good – another extreme- is no different than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

    I don’t think you’ve read the comments here, have you? If not, then let me direct your attention to this comment Heart made up there a ways:

    “As for having gone through experiences of spiritual abuse and violation without disavowing one’s love for Jesus Christ, my experience is that disavowing, or avowing, once you’ve avowed, isn’t really something a person can do by fiat, by an act of the will. I have knocked myself out, if you want to know the truth, to disavow Jesus Christ and all of Christianity. I have done some really impressive raging into the universe, and turning of the back on, too. I am a radical feminist. I live by my own lights, by my own integrity, values, and ethics, and I apologize to no one for these. But here is a truth: the faith clings to me. (And for that eloquent and perfect description of what happens for so many of us who have walked this road, I have to give credit to Ginny in this thread.) I don’t cling. I don’t try. I have done the precise opposite of trying and clinging. Still, the faith doesn’t let go of me. That is a core and central lesson of all I have gone through. I don’t think anyone, but least of all a violated woman, has to worry about disavowing God or Jesus or leaving the faith, or turning the back on God, all of that stuff– those are things that men, and the powerful, ought to be concerning themselves with in their own lives and work. For violated women, though, this is so much will worship, I think, taking on responsibilities which break and harm instead of mend and heal. I think there is a certain rest we find ourselves entering into, as violated women, which is of a whole different order.”

    Jen again: “So, yes, let’s make a difference, but toward the right way, not toward another extreme. ”

    The “right” way? Um. You might want to rephrase that. Just a suggestion.

    Posted by Ginny | November 19, 2006, 6:18 am
  54. Thanks, No Blood for Hubris, I appreciate that. Lil Kevin, I was first excommunicated from Calvary Chapel of Tacoma, on a Sunday morning, July, 1994. The pastor stood up there on the stage and read a letter to the congregation, turning me over to “Satan, for the destruction of my flesh.” I wasn’t there, of course. In fact, I’d left the church months earlier. The Calvary Chapels are a gigantic denomination with churches all over the world and in just about every major city in the U.S., even though they pretend they aren’t a denomination at all. They came out of the old Jesus People days, started out as a bunch of hippie freaks on the beaches down in California in the 70s. Bottom line, they are conservative Christians, Bible literalists, dispensational, pre-Trib, four-point Calvinists (the only missing point is the L for Limited Atonement), with an emphasis on verse-by-verse expository teaching of the Bible. Well, whatever. It’s been a long time since I thought about all of this stuff! Quite a few of them broke off to become the Vineyard movement some years back, then quite a few of the Vineyards converted to Orthodoxy, which you would probably find interesting. 🙂
    Jen– you ask what happened to me. First, thanks, Ginny, for being here with me, you have got to be the most faithful friend ever. You’re the best.
    What happened to me was, I faced up to what has happened to me in my life, and not only what has happened to me, but what has happened to all women, because we are women. The Bible doesn’t say much about women loving women, it’s true– because it lumps women in under “men” and “brethren,” as in, “Let the love of the brethren continue.” Women are supposed to understand themselves as included in there somehow, even though we are invisible. And the same with all the language of the Bible, God as “father,” even though we know God is not gendered, doesn’t have a penis, isn’t male, all humanity as “mankind,” and above all, women as chattel, property, owned by men. Ginny said some really good things about this in an earlier comment; I won’t repeat what she said here.
    I don’t think radical feminism is in any way extreme. I think it is an appropriate response to the way men throughout the world violate women and always have. Women don’t violate men because they are men. Men violate women because we are women. That is just what’s real–look around. Read the news. Pay attention. It is inescapable. The day came when I let myself face what is done to girls and women for what it is, and once I did, I could never go back. If there is anything extreme about me, it is my love for and my commitment to women as a people, because women are, I believe, a people. Women are my people. Having said that, love and commitment can’t be extreme, I don’t believe. You can’t love too much.
    As to doing what feels good, well, fighting for my people — the people of women –doesn’t feel good. It costs me. I pay for it. But it is also immensely satisfying and rewarding work, energizing, inspiring.

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2006, 7:54 am
  55. “And the same with all the language of the Bible, God as “father,” even though we know God is not gendered, doesn’t have a penis, isn’t male, all humanity as “mankind,” and above all, women as chattel, property, owned by men.”

    And even when they can muster up the courage to say that god isn’t gendered they still have admit that there is an essential male/female dynamic to existence: “mankind” exists only to be penetrated by god just like women are penetrated by both god/mankind/and anything mankind likes to dream up. It’s ok for men to be “god’s bitch” (aka church as bride) because they get to keep kicking shit down hill. In fact, the whole scenario legitimizes the earthly subordination they like to dish out: see, we’re submissive, too, to a divine of our own creation who has rules that benefit us the most!

    As for Lil Kevin, the whole disassociative thing doesn’t fly with me. Plenty of rapists and murders and whatnot ARE true, authentic Christians in every possible sense. You don’t have the right to excommunicate them any more than they do you, just because your ego is bruised and you want to come here and tell everyone how sweet you are. No one gives a damn about your faith any more than what sock you put on first, this morning. And that much is a fact whether you believe in it or not. You’re not the only one who can drop lines like that.

    P.S. Your god raped Mary. Who’d he ask for forgiveness?

    No, I don’t want to debate “theology” here, but Heart, I don’t really think Kevin added anything to this discussion. Maybe post a bunch of Daly quotes to keep things on track? 😀

    Posted by Rich | November 20, 2006, 12:12 am
  56. A few random comments that I’d like to make:

    Someone asked about QF (quiver-full) women who are infertile — how do their churches respond to them? One of the interesting things about the whole QF “movement” is that it rarely finds expression in one particular local church. In fact, I think it would be interesting to examine the huge role the internet has played in turning the QF philosophy and practice (“I think I’ll let God plan my family”) into this movement that has brought in all sorts of other philosphies and practices (modest dress, headcoverings, strict gender roles, etc., etc.)

    Lots of bandwidth is constantly used in QF online discussions to deal with the issue of churches and extended families who criticize, complain, and condemn QF families. Anyone who has more than the socially acceptable number of children knows that you cannot venture forth in public very often without encountering all sorts of negative comments, no matter how cute and well-behaved your children might be, and how radiantly happy you might be at the moment. Someone will think you are an irresponsible moron, and they will often let you in on their opinion. (My kids and I have collected some of our most hilarious encounters and still like to laugh over them.) Anyway, it’s hard not to adopt a siege mentality or some sort of martyr complex, as in, “I am being persecuted for my stand for righteousness.”

    There is the “QF movement” that is all about the stuff that has been described in recent articles, and all about the stuff that Heart describes here so eloquently…and then there are those people who simply don’t think that the Bible commands them to use birth control, and who are happy to embrace having lots of babies and practicing a more natural, “old-fashioned” kind of mothering (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, delayed schooling, whatever). Some people just really love the adventure of having a houseful of kids and don’t find a compelling reason to use birth control. Others see it as somewhat of a faith issue — do they really trust God with their fertility? — and others see it as a traditional sort of thing — even protestant churches were anti-birth-control until early in the 1900’s. Not every couple who has thrown out the IUD’s and cervical caps (do people still use those or is there some newer-fangled improvement?) view their cute little babies as weapons in some grandiose battle.

    Posted by Rebecca | November 20, 2006, 12:25 am
  57. One more thing…one of the dilemmas of the QF movement is what to do about the women who want to be QF yet their husbands do not. Some believe that the wife should refuse to use birth control. Others believe she should submit under protest. My point is that it is not always a patriarchal husband who wants to toss out the birth control.

    I’ve dialogued with women who feel that it is anti-woman to view female fertility as a problem that needs to be controlled and regulated.

    What bothers me is that a philosophy that could be very woman-and-child friendly has been high-jacked by men who are less concerned with mothers and babies and far more concerned with using them to further their own agendas.

    Posted by Rebecca | November 20, 2006, 12:41 am
  58. Well, yeah, but you know me well enough to know that’s not me, Rich– I like to keep the door open, always, from my side. There are conservative Christian/Full Quiver women reading. They are where they are, just like I was where I was, until I wasn’t anymore. No sense clobbering people, in my opinion, at least intentionally. Better to build bridges where it’s possible to, be as kind as possible, or that’s me anyway.


    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2006, 12:49 am
  59. Great posts, Rebecca– for some reason they ended up in the spam queue or they’d have been approved more quickly.
    I think you’re right that really, it’s the internet where the Full Quiver movement as a movement actually exists, at least the sort of umbrella movement that includes everybody who has lots of kids because they think it’s wrong to say no to God’s blessings. Even on the internet, I think that there are plenty of “full quiver” women who are more like what you describe, they just enjoy having babies and being moms, and it’s validating to hang out in full quiver venues because there is so much support for that kind of lifestyle there.
    The other place the full quiver movement exists is in ATI, Bill Gothard’s homeschool program, which again spans denominations and meeting places, although it doesn’t have internet visibility to speak of. This is a group which does meet annually in one place in real life, at least once, and it’s where a lot of the full-quiver ideas have gotten their beginnings or been widely promulgated (and I know you know this, this is more for lurkers).
    I think the issues are complicated in the way you describe. I first heard of this idea of “letting God plan your family” when I was pregnant with my sixth child who will be 22 soon. (!) The way I heard about it was, a woman at church asked me why I had five children and was pregnant with my sixth. I don’t remember how I answered but I probably said something like that I really enjoyed pregnancy, enjoyed my babies, because I did. She said the reason she had asked was, she was reading The Way Home and wondered if I’d had all those kids for the reasons set forth in Mary Pride’s book (which TWH was). The only other times I had heard of no birth control as a matter of just not believing in birth control were from Roman Catholics, to some degree, in the hippie/back-to-the-land movement where drugs and bc paraphernalia were looked upon as unnatural and probably dangerous and an imperialist/capitalist plot, and in the Civil Rights/black nationalist/American Indian movements of the ’60s where birth control was viewed as coded language for genocide.
    I was just beginning my descent into the more extreme forms of Christianity then, this would have been 1985, I guess, but I liked the idea that maybe my natural predilection for having lots of babies, the way I enjoyed pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc., might be something God liked, too. I liked being affirmed in that way given, as you describe, the unfavorable reaction of most people around me to my general fecundity. 🙂 I think that’s how many women (and families for that matter) end up in the full quiver movement. I think you’re right that the opposition they tend to get from families, other church members, etc., usually gets them digging their heels in deeper. After all– once you’ve had all those kids, you’re committed. So, they get to looking to the Amish, the Plain People, as role models because they have many kids and are, in general, admired, they begin reading Amish/Mennonite writings, they begin living the way the Plain People do, and there you have it, a movement.

    I’ve dialogued with women who feel that it is anti-woman to view female fertility as a problem that needs to be controlled and regulated.

    This is good. 🙂 I love it. For one thing, it makes room for ideas I think are really worth talking about, like that the Left/liberals are just as guilty of hi-jacking the discussion of women’s fertility as the Right/conservatives are. The Left likes the idea of birth control and abortion rights in part because it improves sexual accessibility to the bodies of women; it’s not all about concern for women at all. It’s about philosophies and theories of “sexual liberation” which, by and large benefit heterosexual men, who are not, for example, as concerned about abortion rights as they are about having to support children or losing women’s sexual services. The Left likes women to take care of birth control so het men don’t have to worry about it and can have all sex all the time, no worries, no consequences (to him). This is as much a hijacking as religious men’s hijacking is a hijacking. Lost in there somewhere is what women want, what our issues actually are. Women want the freedom to conceive and bear or to conceive and not bear. We want the freedom to enjoy children or not. To have children or not. To raise children or not. For us, issues around sexuality are related, but distinct, issues.

    I had this discussion with Jeyoani just this weekend, and we’ve had it before: what about women who just LIKE to have lots of babies, who LOVE being pregnant, breastfeeding, who really just enjoy the whole thing. The Left talks about population, but it isn’t about population. The world can support us all, or could, if the U.S. didn’t hog and control pretty much all of the resources, for just one example, and if all of us worked towards sustainability. The Right talks about monogamy and the sanctity of marriage, which is coded language for, as pony said, “for every man a wife,” and talks about children as “arrows,” as weapons in an ideological/political/theological battle for control, dominion. In my perfect world, children would be raised by communities, and women would not be obligated to do all of the caretaking and nurturing just because they enjoyed pregnancy and bearing. Responsibilities would be shared based on what women liked to do; some might like being pregnant, some might like caring for infants, some might like caring for littles, some might like interacting with older children and teenagers, some might like caring for pregnant women. This is what Sonia Johnson was getting to in her writings, that it’s the way patriarchy has defined and regulated motherhood that makes it so miserable for mothers.

    I agree that it isn’t always the father that wants to toss out the birth control; then again, the arguments there can sound kind of like the arguments about why women “choose” to marry or “choose” to be heterosexual or “choose” … whatever, all the way to “choosing” stripping or pornography or prostitution. I’ve been mulling over that quote I posted of Andrea Dworkin’s up there where she says right-wing women choose things in the way animals do, not as fully human, human beings would. That might sound degrading if you don’t love and respect animals, but Dworkin did, radical feminists do, I do. Our dogs, for example, didn’t set up the world so that they were some people’s pets, objectified, groomed, trotted out in dog shows, made subject to all sorts of rules and regulations. If the world were our dogs’ oyster, they would hardly choose to spend their time in crates, be walked only once a day on a leash, can’t lay on the couch or the beds, eat only dogfood, etc. But that’s the only world they know. Within the world that they know, they usually become a certain kind of pirate, or my dog is. If I leave the food on the counter, when my back is turned she’ll go help herself. If I throw anything that smells like food in the trash, she’ll go nosing around in there to find it and will drag it out, again when I turn my back. She doesn’t like to go outside to pee when it’s rainy and cold, so she might sneak around and pee somewhere in the house. If I hadn’t had her spayed, no matter how hard I would have tried to keep her in when she was in heat, she’d have been Houdini and found a way to get out for trysts with the neighborhood male dogs and would have had lots of puppies. IOW in a world in which her choices are completely regulated, she does her best to sneak amongst the pleasures which are available to her. (Doesn’t this make everybody feel so horrible for dogs and domesticated animals?! Good! We all should feel horrible about that!) I think women do something like this, too, and that this is what Andrea Dworkin was talking about. Another person who has written eloquently about this is Claire Pinkola-Estes, who writes of the way women “sneak” our pleasures, “sneak” things that make us happy in a context in which we are told what we can and cannot have, in which we are relentlessly regulated by those who have power over us, in which we are told what we are allowed and not allowed to be happy with and about. So I think women do something like “sneak” the pleasures of being pregnant and having babies because that’s something they *can* sneak and then find validation for in certain places, like the FQ world, like the “old Catholic” world, but in a different world, not only would they not have to sneak or have any impulse to sneak, their choices might be much, much different. Mary Daly talks about this in terms of being a pirate in her book (my favorite of hers) Pure Lust, the way as a feminist woman, she has been a kind of pirate, searching for buried, hidden treasures, for what has been stolen from women, buried, for what has been kept from us, what has been concealed, made to be wrong, and so on.

    Well, thanks, Rebecca, for your brilliant, as always, voice.


    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2006, 7:43 pm
  60. Another thing is, that Dworkin quote — goddess how I love that woman — she says:
    They see that creativity and originality in their kind are ridiculed; they see women thrown out of the circle of male civilization for having ideas, plans, visions, ambitions.
    We aren’t allowed, as women, to defend our own ideas, plans, visions, ambitions if they are creative and original, i.e., “Why can’t some women get pregnant, some breastfeed, others care for children, why can’t raising children be a community affair?” These ideas are why men have continued and still try to throw radical feminists out of the circle of male civilization. For one thing, this isn’t “for every man, a wife,” and how, in this scenario, does he know which arrows are his property? Heck, women could bear and raise children in this scenario without men at all, except as sperm donors! So women who want to have lots of babies can’t safely defend their choice on the basis: “I want to.” They have to have OTHER reasons, reasons patriarchal society will approve and endorse for what they do, like, “God says children are a blessing. They are arrows in the hands of my mighty warrior husband.” If they could just say, and be respected in it, “I have 11 children because damn, I’m good at it, and damn, I love it! Now, where are my wives to help me raise them :),” that’s what they might say. But who can say that, in this day and age, and not get laughed right off the planet, or chased off, or run off on a rail or much worse? So women invoke their connections with men as a way to protect their choices, as a way to survive. (Leaving aside for a moment the issue of the way women’s choices are limited and that they might not find the pleasure in bearing children in a different, nonpatriarchal world.)
    It’s interesting, I loved Mary Pride’s ideas when I first heard them and wasn’t aware of the fact that she was and is a reconstructionist. She spoke my language: babies, pregnancies, home births, breastfeeding for however long, gardening, home business, making art and music at home, YES. That was the vision of the old hippie movement I had so loved, too, not necessarily a zillion babies, but in freedom, as many as a back-to-the-lander might choose to have. I was already there when I read that book, was already at home, gardening, five kids and another on the way, herbs, farmer’s market booth, writing, sewing, etc. As I descended down into the world of patriarchal religion, though, one by one, I stopped loving these things which had always energized and inspired me. I both wanted to be pregnant (as evidence of God’s blessing/favor) and feared being pregnant (I was getting older; what if God punished me by taking my child or my life), the things I’d loved at home I stopped loving, because now they were my duty as a “godly woman” and an “obedient wife.” I could justify my choices handily theologically and so I could enjoy protection and respect, but I paid for this in the form of no longer being able *to* choose, of being compelled to “obey,” instead of enjoying my life and finding a reason that worked for everybody around me and insulated me from their criticisms. I think something like this happens to many women in this world– at first they are all gung ho, oh YES, I’m going to have BABIES and my mom won’t be able to criticize me because the Bible says so, and all my friends support me, and I don’t have to worry about birth control anymore (a HUGE concern for women, still in 2006), YAY, I can just be an earth goddess and it will be the best thing ever. But as time goes on, the work increases, the exhaustion builds, the scriptures increasingly regulate, increasingly command, tell her to be happy, tell her to pray without ceasing, tell her not to complain, she realizes she is in over her head, this isn’t what she wanted at all, and then what? She has very few choices and none that she has are good.

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2006, 8:48 pm
  61. I’m a conservative Christian woman who would be happy to answer any questions. I’m a full-time professional, married, and not a mother. My husband and I adore and respect each other, we talk endlessly, and we persue everything from mountain biking to computer projects to teaching Sunday School together.

    I ocassionally enjoy reading essays/blog posts/books written by Doug Wilson or Doug Phillips, and I didn’t hestitate to link to Heart’s post and point out that people who listen to these men must be be aware of the substantial charges against them.

    Posted by aggregatefascinate | November 21, 2006, 3:37 pm
  62. Well, I’m just a young person. I live in an extremely conservative town, but not to this extent. Alot of people would think people having that many children is crazy unless they could afford it. I don’t mean afford it like be in debt over simple things.

    Myself though, I’ve always been terrified of having children. I don’t see how I would ever survive in these awkward communities devoted to that many children.

    I do thank you for sharing this story though, really.

    Posted by Oki | November 21, 2006, 8:24 pm
  63. Heart, I just wanted to thank you for writing this and naming the names. I fully understand the risk you have taken by doing so, how much you have already lost, and how much you stand to lose. I can only imagine the pain it must have caused you to relive those years. However, somebody had to blow the whistle on the likes of Farris and the others who hijacked homeschoolijng and are now rubbing elbows with the president and I’m afraid it might have had to have been you.

    It breaks my heart that I was ever involved in our old world, but it scares me even more when I see how much more powerful they were than i thought and how much more powerful they are becoming every day.

    I am ashamed of how easily I was sucked in and even more ashamed of how thoroughly they broke me, with only two children instead of eleven, thirteen, or more.

    As I said in my previous comment, I fear that I don’t have anything very intelligent to add to these discussions and that my lack of education might be embarassing to you, but I just needed to chime in and thank you for the work you do and the encouragement you have always given me, either directly or through your writing for the general public.

    I don’t see how I would have gotten through thre past year and a half without knowing you and the other strong womyn at the discussion boards.

    Posted by anonymom | November 25, 2006, 10:32 pm
  64. Heart–Thank you for your post. Please tell us how you know that Kimberly Forder and her husband belonged to the Full Quiver movement.


    Posted by Rita Swan | December 5, 2006, 6:06 pm
  65. Hi, Rita–
    The distinctives of the full quiver movement, in general, are:
    * A belief that children are a blessing from God to be received with thanksgiving;
    * Opposition to birth control and abortion;
    * The belief that it is the responsibility of parents to raise their “blessings” in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord,” applying bible verses about “child training” literally;
    * A belief in “God’s order” in the home: father as the head/spiritual leader; mother as supportive and submitted to the head, children submitted to both parents;
    The following are not exactly distinctives, but are characteristics common to full quiver families:
    * Valuing of a simple, rural, agrarian lifestyle;
    * Avoidance of traditional medicine, doctors, medical procedures, i.e., hospital birth, interventions/medications in birth, immunizing children, in preference of home or birth center birth unassisted or with midwives and alternative medical care (naturopathic; homeopathic);
    * Avoidance of debt;
    * Homeschooling of children
    I cannot say I actually “knew” Kimberly Forder, but I believe I met her in at least one workshop I presented in the early 90s, maybe more, probably a workshop in Seabeck, Silverdale, or Bremerton, Washington. She lived near me, about 40 miles away. She subscribed to my publication in the early 90s as did many other full quiver mothers. She was a faithful subscriber for at least a couple of years.
    From what I know of her, her family was characterized by all of the above distinctives, omitting none. Unlike most full quiver families, though, the Forders adopted most of their younger children, seven of them if I am not mistaken.
    Having said all of that, as with homeschooling, home churching, and these other movements within “bible believing” Christianity, nobody really “belongs” to the movement in any official sense. These are grass roots movements; the belonging comes in the practicing of, or holding to, the distinctives.
    But most of these people read and follow the same teachers: Mary Pride, Jonathon Lindvall, Bill Gothard, Richard Fugate, the Pearls (Train Up a Child), all of whom advocate for, teach, insist on, or at the very least advocate for, the distinctives I’ve listed. The central distinctive of the full quiver crowd is a valuing of bearing children and raising large families in a biblical manner. The pressure on mothers, who bear all of the daily responsibility, most of the time, for “training” “obedient” children, is immense, not only the internal pressure they experience feeling inadequate to do the job, but the external pressures which are placed on them. If their children are “disobedient” or “unruly”, their husbands will be viewed as negligent fathers, ineligible to be elders, and they will be viewed as derelict in their own duties as mothers. They are repeatedly commanded to “discipline” their children without paying attention to their children’s cries or screams. They are taught that children are “manipulative,” and that out of a love for God, they should not be turned aside from any disciplinary measures necessary to bring a child “under control,” and that control of children by parents is a paramount religious duty. With horrifying results sometimes, as with the little Forder boy.
    I want to say that there is a movement-within-the-full-quiver-movement of full quiver moms who reject harsh discipline of children– this is the Gentle Christian Mothers movement. But they are a minority and very often, they or their husbands are considered to be bad examples, and especially if the children behave like children– running, jumping, laughing, playing, experimenting, touching things, and so on.

    Posted by womensspace | December 5, 2006, 8:29 pm
  66. I have known Bruce Murch since 1976. I helped him and Beverly move from Atlanta in 1986. Beverly Murch was a young and attractive woman, she had a spark of life in her eyes.

    … all of that has changed over the years of being beaten down within the Full Quiver doctrines and/or Patriarchy doctrines.

    I remember when Bruce and family came to protests in Atlanta in 2004. Beverly looked very sad… I saw it in her eyes. I saw a vast feeling of despair and hopelessness. I saw that she was in a life prison sentence.

    It still bothers me that she has had to endure the stupidity… that’s right… I call it “stupidity” of her husband, Bruce Murch. The man is living in complete denial.

    Check out

    There’s much more to tell.

    Posted by Ken Parks | December 13, 2006, 2:40 am
  67. Dangit! I stumbled onto this site from ginmar’s site via a link to a different story here. Then I started reading this one and now it’s very late and I should have been in bed hours ago but the story is so interesting and most everyone’s comments, too, that I’m still here.

    Something that Vance stated that I’m surprised no one shot down (although Ginny touched upon it) was this:

    “I don’t know what motivates these guys but they like any of us are creatures of our upbringing. Perhaps they grew up in a home where mom was abusive to dad, and maybe the kids too — whining, griping, nagging, belittling, shouting, angry. ”

    I can’t believe I’m the first to get to say this: Notice how he managed to blame women for the horrible things that these men and those who’ve followed them have done to women? Typical patriarch, he is.

    Excellent articles at Womens Space. I’ll try not to stay up, reading here, too much longer.

    Posted by CoolAunt | December 13, 2006, 8:02 am
  68. I stumbled on to this web site and am wondering…”Heart”, are you and Cheryl Lindsey, that published “Gentle Spirit” magazine years ago, the same person? I mean, I was familiar with it years ago but lost track of you altogether. So I think you’re both the same person:), but just thought, out of curiosity, that I’d just ask to be sure. And do you still publish a magazine by that name?

    Posted by Krista | December 13, 2006, 3:49 pm
  69. Krista, yes, it’s me. I stopped publishing the magazine in 2001, sob.

    Hey, CoolAunt! About time you showed up. 🙂 Glad you are enjoying the articles. Very true what you say about Frank Vance’s words there. Yeah, right, it’s all about how “mom is abusive to dad” in these fundie families, yessiree bob. Yeesh. Well, all the patriarchs are duking it out at the moment. Frank Vance is being sued by a conservative Christian organization for defamation or something like that.

    As to your comment, Ken Park, well, I’m going to write a new blog post.


    Posted by womensspace | December 13, 2006, 5:39 pm
  70. Hi there,

    I too found this particlar post by accident.

    I had never heard of the Full Quiver movement.

    I live in the UK and am not a religious person. For me, it’s not been my thing. My parents were a Protestant and a Catholic and that divided sectarianism (which stille exists in Scotland) led them to raise me and my sister as asthiests. My sister truned her back on and married a catholic. Go figure!

    I think there is a big difference between people who have “religion” and those who have “faith”. People with faith don’t need the approval of their church to live their lives within their belief system.

    But I’m going off at a tangent somewhat.

    I only really wanted to say that your post and the comments has opened my eyes to something I knew nothing about.

    I agree with profacero, who near the beginning of the thread stated that these sytems exist on a smaller scale within many communities. I see that myself in the small town where I live and in the culture where it is the norm for women to give up paid work when they have babies but not for men.

    I think to have raised 11 kids and still have time and energy to write a blog as good as this is something to be applauded. I feel kind of dumb for saying so because it sounds so patronising. But I have three children and I find them hard enough work.

    I read somewhere that for every child a woman bears she loses a novel. Heart you would have been up there with Barbara Cartland (and would have no doubt written much less bullshit than she)

    My great-grandmother raised 14 children and it’s still considered “good” within the catholic church to have as many children as possible.

    I see my sister trying to balance having a career and trying so hard to be a good wife (her husband wants lots of children) and trying to cope with the pressures of consumerism and I feel scared and sorry for her.

    I like the idea of living a simpler life and working the land, the lack of materialism though. I can see where the draw would be towards that part of the lifestyle.

    I will keep reading your posts.

    They are fascinating.

    Posted by puddlejumper | December 13, 2006, 8:10 pm
  71. Wow. What can I say? As a child of a cult (liberated by my parents who finally got a clue and left, thank God!) I get very angry when I hear of spiritual abuse.

    Sad, too, that it serves to sour people on things which can be good and lovely.

    My husband and I would identify as “Quiverfull” though we’ve never been part of a “system” nor really found any opportunity to be. We attend a large church where, as far as we know, we are the only couple not planning a sterilization surgery after baby #3. Any families with more children than that, the last few are “oopses”. (Sometimes the first few are “oopses” too).
    We’ve found a huge diversity of people nationwide who hold this same conviction, fewer and fewer of whom fit the ‘barefoot and pregnant’ denim jumper homeschool mom stereotype. I do find some of the accusations here rather baffling, actually. And in such large numbers it would be difficult to respond to them all. I suppose it’s always educational to get a glimpse of how other people view me, though rather depressing, I must say.

    I would like to point out that not all fundamentalists are Quiverfull (most aren’t, numbers wise)–in fact, the people who most often condemn us and do it with the most vigor are people who believe in traditional (fundamentalist, if you like) Christian values/morals. I think it’s unfair to blame the Quiverfull movement for the majority (or any) of the conservative movement’s politics. As far as I know, there is not Quiverfull college, Quiverfull party, or even Quiverfull state. Just because conservatives tend to average more kids than liberals doesn’t mean they reject birth control altogether. Even Randy Alcorn and Albert Mohler approve of birth control, used “judiciously” and “unselfishly”. I once asked Focus on the Family if they had any policy statements about the Pill and the reply was “we leave that up to individuals, but we’ve not seen any evidence that any family planning is immoral for Christians to use”. Hardly Quiverfull.

    Personally, looking around me, I see plenty of abuse, abandonment, and misery to go around among my secular, non-QF, pro-choice, feminist peers. I tend to think that such things are more a product of human nature than any one system.

    Posted by Margaret | December 20, 2006, 4:12 am
  72. Very interesting discussion. I was interested in your comment about Gentle Christian Mothers. I know some-one who helps administrate their site. I’m not a member myself andd I’m not Quiverfull either. I’m not aware of GCM being Quiverfull. There may be members who are but I don’t think that’s the base line for membership. I’ve always seen them as promoting the alternative to the extremism of people like the Pearls, Ezzo etc in terms of parenting.

    I’m not aware of GCM people generally being considered bad examples – not online anyway. They have a lot of respect. There will be some extremists who don’t respect them, but then they don’t respect anyone outside their group.

    I realise language can be a let down – i.e. I’m using extremism in one context. I guess you could say abusive and it would mean the same in that context.

    And I’m a woman 🙂 Just to let you know since my name is sometimes mistaked as a man’s name because it is a bit unique. Not that you would necessarily make that conclusion immediately – lol – I think probably not.

    Anyway – very interesting post and discussion. Got me thinking.

    Posted by Catez | January 8, 2007, 1:15 am
  73. Also, since those jerks are getting mail order brides, I hope those women run away with their money. Don’t those idiots realize that those third world women are marrying those jerks for their money. Mail order brides rarely come from rich countries. The mail order bride industry is fueled by American ignorance of other cultures. Fundamentalist men are not loveable. BTW, Russian women are no June Cleavers. They are more influnced by feminism than some American women and are tougher than you think.

    Posted by catty | January 8, 2007, 2:57 pm
  74. Executioner, hold the axe! Sweet Heart, I am the last woman in the WORLD who wants you silenced.

    I don’t think I’ve ever posted on Doug Wilson’s blog, and I know I’ve never gone by “Kiriosity,” but I was a prolific proponent of the quiverfull lifestyle, and I am divorced from Timothy Martin Barrett and living in the lowest circle of legal hell. I’m sure I sent the email, and I beg your forgiveness. I lashed out at anyone who attacked my brainwashed existence and false faith.

    Did anyone else sit in front of their TV with mouths agape while Russell Yates, homeschooler, bus-dweller, home-churcher, and proponent of a full quiver, held a press conference only a few hours after Andrea snapped and drowned all the kids? It’s called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, ladies, and 99% of the Patriarchs had/have it in spades.

    Read “Malignant Pied Pipers of Our Time.” Some cults exist in a single house, or a trailer, or a bus.

    Eyes wide open,

    Jill Barrett

    Posted by Jill Barrett | February 23, 2007, 1:20 am
  75. Jill, apology completely accepted, I so understand, and I apologize for believing you to be someone you are not. I knew about your divorce but I did have you confused with a different Jill Barrett, Kyriosity, who is Reformed and a good writer like you always were and still are. Your ex is one scary individual. I encountered him online once, shortly after my excommunication, and found him to be pretty horrifying.

    Throughout the Andrea Yates saga, I had the feeling I was suffocating, bound and gagged, I wanted so much to explain what was going on there. Nobody got it. Still, hardly anybody gets it. The Patriarchs would have everyone believe that guys like Rusty Yates are a tiny minority in their movement. They lie. I don’t know if these guys have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, (mostly because I don’t think I believe in it) (!) but I do know they are drunk on power and a destructive presence anywhere they are.

    I’m glad you got out of your marriage, despite living in the lowest level of legal hell– I’m so sorry for that. It will end. It will end one day. You were right to get out.

    It’s good to hear from you, Jill. I wish all the best for you.


    Posted by womensspace | February 23, 2007, 4:24 am
  76. I don’t remember my zombie incarnation writing your death-sentence email. I do retain a memory of the Lord & Master coming home and being proud of me when I showed it to him in the “sent” box. Goes to show what an independent thinker I was. This was what, eight years ago? Ten?

    Here’s a twist for you–bet you’ve never heard this before!

    Some ultraconservative, home-schooling, full-quiver, Reformed elders told me to RUN. At least one of them is named on this forum. Here was their logic: your ex has embraced polygamy. (Polygamy=too loony for even Rushdoony). This is porneia, uncleanness, grounds for divorce. My own local pastors told me that the abuse itself constituted porneia even without the polygamy angle. They also said I was footloose and fancy free for remarriage purposes, so in a bizarre twist, I received more grace from the patriarchal poobahs than I extended to you!

    And here you are, all these years later, my “apostate” ex-guru, having successfully sued some of my gurus who “stood firm” for over a half mil, thriving and prospering and blogging all over cyberspace. Clearly, I can’t damn anybody worth a damn. 😀


    Posted by Jill Barrett | February 23, 2007, 3:51 pm
  77. Interesting. I got an e-mail not long ago from Andrew Sandlin apologizing for his part in the patriarchy movement and rejecting what it’s become, and that was pretty mind-boggling to me given that I have long believed him to be among the most misogynist of the Reconstructionists, what with his earlier writings, in the old Chalcedon magazine, on how “effeminate” the church is and his references to “girly” preachers and so on. It’s weird though– I just went looking for an example and didn’t come up with anything, although I do see that he’s apparently duking it out with Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips, the patriarchs, then again, these guys seem to be pretty much brawling with one another these days over everything under the sun, excommunicating each other, ordaining guys the others have excommunicated, I can’t keep up with their latest boondoggles, and since I am not a masochist, I haven’t really tried very hard. 😛 The problem I have is, I smell alpha male crap working, I also smell the dreaded “founder’s syndrome,” where the old alpha male guard comes down hard on the up-and-coming alpha male guard and the issues are not what they appear to be. Sandlin, et al may have retreated on their emphasis on how “effeminate” and “girly” the church is (horrors! Girl cooties! How GAY! Snort.), and they may be sincerely sorry for what Phillips and my ex and your ex and Rusty Yates and his horrifying “preacher” and all of these guys have done with arguments and apologetics they originally advanced, but I, in my cynicism, just figure this is a new and approved attempt to retain or regain their position as alpha males, and so for the moment they are the kinder, gentler patriarchs, rescuing damsels in distress victimized by, in actuality, the wanna be alpha males who hung on, and practiced, their every word. Which is all to, once again, offer a hearty and resounding snort. 🙂 But I am glad you were encouraged to get the heck out of your marriage and to remarry, no matter what the context or reasons might have been. That was one of the most HIDEOUS things about my own situation. At the time I left my ex, everybody was arguing over whose marriage was “legitimate” and whose was not, and I’m sure you recall that, how could anybody who was there forget it, but by the reasoning some use, i.e., Mary Pride, et al., my ex and I weren’t married to begin with because he had been married before, and I had been married before, and our respective former spouses were still alive (albeit mine was in jail for trying to kill me) so we were still married to them in the “eyes of God,” except that my first ex had also been married before and my ex’s ex had also been married before and I don’t even know if her ex had been married before, and you see the problem. HA! And of course, all the Anabaptist contingent, the Kenastons, et al, believed my marriage was not “legitimate.” But my former pastor, Sue Welch, Michael Boutot, and that crowd insisted my marriage was not only legitimate, I had no “scriptural basis” for divorce. And then there were all the people in between who had their own views. That was a bizarre time. I wonder what that crowd would say now. My ex left the state the moment the divorce was final and none of the kids saw hide nor hair of him for 10 years. He didn’t call, he didn’t write, he sent no gifts, and he got himself into trouble in a bunch of ways. I wonder if any of them get it yet. Probably not. They probably still say it’s my fault and he just couldn’t deal with my having divorced him! He did show up recently and jerked everybody around and made huge messes for a little over a year, very traumatic. He’s gone again, so we shall see.

    I didn’t know your ex had gotten into polygamy, although I know some of these guys have gone that way and into other stuff, like “domestic discipline.” Like I say. Drunk with power.

    I went to your blog– you look GREAT! I can only hope your ex gives up his stalking and abuse, now through the courts, one of these days. I hope you get your doctorate and become an English professor. I don’t know if I can urge you to raise a dozen human beings, though! Maybe I will try to talk you out of that one. Six is a nice number? I have raised 7, almost 8, of my 11 to adulthood, believe it or not. I have four still at home– almost 9, almost 12, almost 16, almost 18. It’s a new world. 🙂


    Posted by womensspace | February 23, 2007, 5:52 pm
  78. I haven’t remarried, I was just reassured that I COULD, in theory. With so many children, as many quiverfull refugees have discovered, it isn’t so easy in practice. Not that my remarriage was ever up to the poobahs in the first place! And wouldn’t get pregnant again, even if I were able to remarry Hugh Jackson or Viggo Mortensen.

    A. Sandlin was one of my ex’s absolute favorites. He loved S. Schissel as well. Thanks for taking the time to visit my Amazon page. I was actually sued by my ex for character defamation for some of my reviews of books on domestic violence and recovery.

    I deplore these alpha male jockeyings over “theology” also. Double snort! If they were actually doing the grunt work of birthing, breastfeeding, and raising their “quivers” they would not have time to worry about who’s at the top of the biblical heap and whose marriages are legit and all that self-righteous hooey. Besides, it’s amazing how elastic their “theology” can be. My ex decided he was married “in God’s eyes” to a married woman. He told the children that it was even okay for him to sleep with her as long as he was “on top of the covers” and she was underneath. I thought this was just delightful, from a writer’s and grammarian’s point of view. Have you ever heard of a better euphemism for Pharisaical hair-splitting in all your life than “on top of the covers”? Forget gnats and camels, specks and logs–he can hold a magnifying glass, squint at your dust mites (he confiscated my new Weird Al CD from the kids!), and gulp down beached whales with sequoias poking out of his skull. Don’t you think it’s admirable that Sandlin at least ATTEMPTED to apologize for his testosterone-church rhetoric? If he thought I was a damsel in distress he wouldn’t be far off the mark. I’ve been to court 87 times.

    I think my ex was so convincing for so many years because he himself is so firmly convinced. There’s not a shadow of a doubt of his own awe-inspiring righteousness in his mind; not a doubt that God is in his right hip pocket and in unshakeable agreement with him about everything. If he can find a piece of paper and a pen in heaven, he’ll file at least ten preliminary motions before the Great White Throne Judgment–of that there is no doubt in my mind.

    Here’s to liberty, and to the new world!


    Posted by Jill Barrett | February 24, 2007, 5:12 pm
  79. Bless you, Heart. They are scared silly of you, as they should be. I wrote to you once before – I’m here in Loudoun, “coexisting” with Farris and Patrick Henry College, as they try to insinuate themselves into our community.

    We have another quiverfull type blogging locally here, although she doesn’t use that label.

    Keep up the excellent work, these people can’t withstand the light of day.

    Posted by David | April 3, 2007, 1:35 am
  80. This full quiver movement is a cult. I would encourage all lesbian feminists to read the psychological literature on cults and how they work.

    And telling the truth about these groups will help many people.

    Basically, you have to be suspicious of any religious organization where people claim “authority from god.” This should be a given.

    Reputable spiritual teachers always stress freedom of conscience.

    What amazes me is how women worldwide can still be so controlled again and again by this stuff.

    RR christian radio is full of these “women be subservient” to your husbands nonsense. They have conferences, and women get sucked in. You can just get sick listening to the smarmy condescending voices of these men as they “council” women on the radio.

    Cult indoctrination and control take a long time to get free from, and cults are a huge problem in America, a bigger problem than anyone would imagine.

    Some how, women finally break free of these things… something finally clicks for them.

    Women can be very susceptible to all of this because women care about children and are peaceful and compassionate by nature. We deal with male domination on so many levels worldwide, and it’s very hard to see through it.

    It’s why even in lesbian feminism we are now dealing with the new male supremacy of transwomen — patriarchy is an all pervasive force in the world, and we can break its hold.

    If Heart can break free and Sonia Johnson, so can all women.

    Lesbian feminists need to become more disciplined worldwide in creating economic power, and we as women need to really take this seriously, so we can create businesses and use these ideas to invent new ways of living.

    Stories like Heart’s need to be told to all lesbians everywhere.
    If we don’t take action and get this truth out, we will have a theocratic state in our lifetime.

    Men fear feminism and they will do anything in their power to destroy it. They will lie, they will pretend to support women’s rights, but ultimately they will always try to turn back the clock so they can dominate women once again.

    They do it by making mass media pornographic, they do it will the mult-billion dollar pornography industry, and they do it by sexualizing young girls through “entertainment.”

    Even lesbians are falling for this sexualization propaganda through graphic lesbian pornography and rap lyrics as well.

    It’s hard to stand up against all of this, but we can and we do.

    Out of incredible oppression comes the greatest feminist thinkers the world has ever known. We need to honor this hell they have lived in, so they could bring light to all of us!

    Posted by Satsuma | October 29, 2007, 6:01 am
  81. Satsuma,

    Do you have a blog yet? Would you be willing to make one?

    I *love* your posts, and hope that you will do more writing.



    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 29, 2007, 10:05 pm
  82. Hi Mary,

    No I don’t have a blog, but I do like to contribute to the efforts of others.

    I’ll be here quite a bit, because I really admire the women who write on this space. It’s one of the best feminist sites I have ever seen, heard or read in the last 15 years or so!

    Heart really gets it, and it is such a relief to find my peers and comrades at last! Los Angeles is a bit of a lesbian feminist wasteland, and we have serious issues to deal with, and a community that needs to unite and share!

    We’re changing the world, we need to keep at it!

    Looking forward to reading all your ideas as well.

    Posted by Satsuma | October 29, 2007, 11:50 pm
  83. Ah, thanks, Satsuma! I have just today directed some very weary old radical lesbian feminist warriors to your comments here, too! One in particular who is an academic and is so disgusted by that world she wants to write an expose! The people she works with, she says, for all their knowledge, do not have a feminist bone in their bodies. I told her, come here, read Satsuma’s comments, you will be encouraged! It’s such an amazing relief to be understood, felt, recognized, yay!

    Of course, I now have a billion response to your newest comments, which will have to wait til later, as I am going to meet a (radical feminist, yay!) friend for drinks after work tonight. We are doing this every other Monday, and I’m *loving* it. More and more community, wherever we are, wherever we can make it, online, on the phone, in real life, gotta have it.

    But of course, I will be back later on. 🙂


    Posted by womensspace | October 29, 2007, 11:57 pm
  84. I wanted to add a little bit to our discussion of Full Quiver– but more important, I read a woman centered psychological profile of the five things cults do.

    This list is very useful in uncovering any attempts by anyone around you to use mind control or to try to get you to join a cult.

    Even in the lesbian and gay community, there are a lot of cult-like organizations. Personality cults are still an issue, and the mainstream newspapers are full of accounts of what happened in the end to corrupt gay leaders. I’m sure we all have stories to share!

    5 Signs of Mind Control and what it does:

    1. Isolation of the individual. They get people away from old friends or non-believers.

    2. Induced debility– they can make you physically ill, or deliberately deprive you of sleep. In full Quiver’s case, they made sure the women were pregnant all the time. Incidently, the Mormons do this too, which is why the women in that place get dulled and unable to get out of it easily.

    3. Occasional Indulgences — how the cult leaders maintain control. They provide “good times” for their followers. Sonia Johnson tells of Women’s relief Society in Mormonism, or you’re made to feel “special” by a leader now and then.
    It’s how they hook and keep their members hooked.

    4. Devaluing the individual– making everyone do the same thing regardless of ability or personal inclination. Uniforms, conformity, shaving the head of a new recruit etc.

    5. Monopolization of perception- regardless of individual talents, the cult member is shipped off to the countryside to “become a peasant” — Mao’s cultural revolution.

    Even lesbian feminism can become this without a lot of good reality checks. Remember the clothing police, raids on people’s kitchens to search for “meat products”, people being told how to live and women being used to produce things for others without getting credit.

    We need to have a hard critique of patriarchy, but also value differences. This is hard to do, but we all want an end to manipulation and domination, and we all long for the radical equality that is the hallmark to the best of lesbian feminist lives and theories.

    Cult-like thinking is everywhere in the U.S. Modern advertising techniques use it, the military uses it, flag waving group think is part of it, us – them mentality is part of it.

    It’s often a fine subtle line.

    Posted by Satsuma | October 30, 2007, 12:10 am
  85. Can’t keep up with these incredible blogging sisters!

    I’m on a roll here and just loving every minute of it.

    Heart, by all means I hope your academic discouraged friend can come here to be renewed. We face great challenges all of us, but once we have our Mitchie’s Tavern (Where Madison and Jefferson and Washington planned the American Revolution — outside Charlottesville, VA and still open to the public for the coldest beer and best fried chicken and black eyed peas you ever did drink and eat!!!)– This little blog is our Michie’s Tavern, and all the great women who long for freedom under patriarchy can come here! I’m passing around a plate of delicious chicken right this minute!

    Today was an incredible day. I just flew through my work, I felt inspired and full of purpose. As I was making the long drive home I was listening to the incredible piece by Ravel “Pavan for a Dead Princess” as I looked at the astonishing October light and the mountains to the side of the freeway.

    I just felt so much gratitude for all of you. Your ideas and comments just fuel my very lesbian feminist soul.

    If you could all be compared to the late afternoon light, the incredible music and the anticipation of the great Halloween… well that’s what I feel after writing here.

    And feeling so inspired to write about so many things, and to be actually understood! Wow, what a concept. This is the power of lesbian feminism that I have been SO MISSING — maybe starting in 1995.

    Somehow we started losing our leaders to all kinds of things, and the rise of the right wing was terrible in so many ways. Now the patriarchs are doing battle openly against women — that’s right, they’re getting bold and tipping their hands.

    I noticed that several of the big enemies in my book are exactly my age! That’s right — Tom Leykis, Frank Pastori of KKLA christian radio “The intersection of faith and reason” an ex-jock. They were the boys who were evil to girls in high school, and now look at them. 1975 was the key year here– it was a real pitched feminist battle in schools against the cave men boys.

    Well those boys have remained womanhaters. They were jerks in high school, and they have grown into big jerks on radio today. Nothing ever changes for them.

    We thought we had a good chance of winning, or we believed that men had really changed. Well they haven’t, they’ve just become more “crafty” to quote the Great One — Sonia.

    Well, I’m awandering here, but Heart and all of you, thank you for being your great selves. Thank you for writing from your hearts and minds and great truths!

    I know I’ve thanked you recently, but I want to say it again…let’s shower these women with rose pettles of the goddess, let’s pour them a great drink (whatever they love the most), let’s sing a song in celebration that the old warriors are coming home, and the new ones are singing new songs!

    The power of lesbian feminist space is explosively creative!

    When I sat down to a breakfast with a woman who owns an event planning company this morning, I said, “How can I help you find clients and how can I help you build your business!” She was shocked and said I was the first person who ever just offered help and support. This was a gift I wanted to share, and I think this inspired question came out of me because of this blog!

    The Finnish folk song, the power of love, the desire to provide safety and hospitality… hospitality or its lack thereof was the real sin of Sodom.

    Feminist hospitality and living our life as if it really counted with all our might… this site embodies everything that is good about lesbian feminist intellectual virtuosity!

    I love you all!!!

    Posted by Satsuma | October 30, 2007, 12:33 am
  86. I would just like to say……I am a quiverfull minded, homeschooling mother of 9, and have never been involved in this Patriarch movement. I am also aware of MANY other families with quiverfull hearts that are not involved in this Patriarch movement…….this really upsets me that all quiverfull people seem to be being lumped into this one category. Some of us are living very normal happy lives. My husband respects me and all of our children as indivuduals and is fully supporting me in my quest for my degree in nursing and a fulfilled career afterwards. I am in no way oppressed or abused and NEVER have been.

    Posted by Sheryl | January 21, 2008, 4:30 pm
  87. The closest I came to Quiverfull/Full Quiver was being a member of the Catholic Church and finding out at a young age that women were supposed to have a ton of kids. I said to myself (not even daring to say it out loud) “I don’t think so!”

    Thank you for this heart-felt and enlightening post. I am so sorry for what you suffered. Your post serves as a great piece of feminist history and I’d like to see more done along this area in reserach.

    Posted by Joselyn | February 12, 2008, 1:24 am
  88. Heart,

    I am a young 20 year old female (even though I have a “male” name! It gets misspelled as “Randy” all the time!) who actually stumbled upon this blog from a thread on about the Quiverfull family, the Duggars! I am always amazed at how domineering and hurtful people can be to each other, for whatever reasons (sexism, abuse, racism, even little things like bullying that serve no purpose except for one person to feel good about themselves by hurting another).

    I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but I do identify with a lot of the things discussed on this board… I know a lot of sexism still exists in this world today, both subtle and obvious, but I remind myself constantly that I am lucky to be in the generation that I am, since I have so many more freedoms than women did 100, 50, or even 20 years ago!

    What I find interesting about myself when I read these posts (or feminist literature in general), is how often I identify, for lack of a better word, with men. Let me clarify: I am NOT identifying with the men who are abusers, who dominate women, etc, anything like that. BUT I do believe that there are a lot of decent guys out there, who would be and are horrified by the things that they see other men do to women. Are these men sometimes inherently sexist? Yes, of course. Am I sexist? Of course. Everyone is sexist to a certain degree – it comes with identifying oneself as a “male” or a “female” as opposed to a “person.” Saying “men are inherently corruptible to power” is just as sexist as saying “women naturally care about children.” “Men” and “women” under certain circumstances are interchangeable in each sentence. Ugh, this isn’t coming out as fluently as it exists in my head, because its coming out sounding critical of this thread, which isn’t my intention at all! Some part of me just finds it sad that there are a lot of good men out there, who have been raised by mothers and fathers who taught them that women are at least theoretically equal to men (I know, it doesn’t always turn out that way in practice), who would never dream of dominating or controlling their wife, girlfriend, sister, etc., who just don’t get the recognition as the opposing side of the coin to the abuser, the “Quiverfull” husband, the rightwing conservative, etc. Do these men make mistakes as men? Sure they do. They might come home from work and plop down on the couch and not help clean the house, or whatever example you want to insert. Inherent sexism in gender roles still exists in today’s society, but it is decreasing. (As a personal example, my boyfriend is more anal-retentive about a clean house than I am… I am the one who comes home and flops on the couch! 🙂 ) I guess what I am saying here is kudos to the men who *actively* *try* not to be sexist. They’re not always going to succeed. But children don’t always behave no matter how hard they try. They’ll have temper tantrums and arguments and rebel against authority. But I think any mom or teacher on this thread will understand that you don’t teach children by only telling them what they did wrong – you reward them with praise and acknowledgment when they do *right*. I’m not trying to tell the feminist movement they’re doing something wrong, that its wrong to hold men accountable for the misdeeds and abuses they perpetrate on women, or feminists *should* do something different, but I think a large part of sexism “education” could benefit by not only calling out those men who do commit wrongs, but also by calling out and acknowledging those men who do do right in their interactions with women.

    I’m sorry. I went off on a tangent there, but I really do feel that a lot of men get a bad rap just for being men. I don’t feel that anyone on this board as done this, however it is a common misconception that all feminists are “man-haters”. Anyway this rant was inspired by a question that I wanted to ask Heart: several posts ago you brought up your “ideal” community where child-raising was a group effort, tailored to each woman’s individual preferences. Related to my earlier rant :), I wanted to ask you where men would fit in this community, besides as merely “sperm donors”? What about men who genuinely do care about and enjoy raising children? Would they be able to help? I assume so, because I don’t think the community would simply cast off any male children that were born, and would have to incorporate them into the community. I am sure that you are not a women who inherently hates all men, but I must admit that was my knee-jerk reaction to the comment about men being “sperm donors” only. Like I said, I am sure that was not your intent. 🙂

    In closing, I apologize for the long post, but I hope that if this post is accepted for the board’s viewing, that it will not be taken as “anti-feminist” in any way. That was not my intent, but I do like to play devil’s advocate and look at the other side of the coin (the man’s point of view). We as women are always asking men to look at out point of view, so I feel it is only fair to look at the point of view of men who are *honestly* trying to live as equally as they can with women and who may feel like feminists lump all men together in one big group to be opposed (which I know that most feminists do not do, this is just what I think some men may think!). I fear I may have inadvertently offended some people on this board and I apologize, that was not my intent, nor do I wish to come off as sounding “anti-feminist” or “pro-“… I am not sure what to call it, “pro-male”? lol

    Thanks for your story Heart, I have not read all of it but from what I gather from reading these posts it was a long and hard journey from you, and required a lot of courage and sacrifice! I am going to have to go back to the beginning of this blog, and I would also like to read the article mentioned in this post. And as an aside, your description of Christianity “dogging” you was one of the most honest, humorous, and inspirational descriptions of faith and religion that I have ever encountered! 🙂


    Posted by Randi | August 9, 2008, 3:04 am
  89. Thanks to the lady who left this link on the MSNBC board discussing the duggars and ‘quiverful’.

    Posted by M | January 17, 2009, 5:08 am
  90. I agree wholeheartdly, thank you to the lady who left this link on the msnbc message board. I think it is extremely irresponsible to have gangs of children in some misguided attempt to follow the lord’s preachings. O and something else that disturbs me greatly, you follow the quiverfull teaching, and the word of god, but yet you pass judgement on women who would seek to get an abortion, and expolit your own children for that purpose…no way would I march my 4 year old out on the corner to hold up signs protesting anything, much less abortion…they should be playing with dolls, not dead fetuses…

    Posted by Desirae | January 27, 2009, 9:30 pm
  91. I am so grieved and perplexed by this post and the majority of added comments here. I am so very sorry for the pain and suffering that has been inflicted upon so many wives/mothers out there by really terrible, corrupt and perverted men.
    I must say however, that according to what has been written here, as a 38 year old woman expecting her 11th child at the end of march, I MUST be:
    1) held against my will, duct-taped to the bed and forcibly impregnated.
    2) I MUST be sore, miserable, dirty, hungry,uneducated, and dispairing with no will of my own.
    3)I must have to feed my child with only $100 of grocery money.
    4) I MUST live in only a small trailer full of squalor.
    5)I must have been beaten to submission.
    6) I must be unloved and uncared for by my husband.
    7) the only way for a woman to know freedom is to be free of a) her husband and/or 2)free from children.
    I MUST now tell you that you are utterly and completely WRONG!!! I find much that has been written to be hurtful and angry. I do not mean in any way to deleniate from what some of these women have had to endure, but there is one common element that you are greatly missing. What you are missing is that it is not some movement that made your men and church leaders evil- it was MEN. Not really men as in male, but Man- as in mankind. Your jerk-offs for husbands/spiritual leaders would have found some way to be jerk-offs for husbands/sprirtual leaders whether they had the patriarichal/QF movement to fall on and hide behind or not.
    I find it offensive that this article and so many of these posts justify lambasting anyone who CHOOSES to trust GOD in the planning of their children as poor, misguided, uneducated wretches. And to say that all men who “love” large families are control freaks and power hungry, womanizing wife beaters. I absolutely do not appreciate your blanket statements and find them only to be successful in causing division and confusion especially to the young mind that may stumble upon your post.

    It just so happens that I am an extremely happy wife. I am a homeschool, homebirth, make my own bread, mother of soon to be 11.
    My husband LOVES and ADORES ME! I am the apple of his eye and though I have packed on a few unwanted pounds over the years, I excite him and he makes me feel like the most beautiful, sexiest woman alive.
    He absolutely supports me.
    I am NOT condemned to the shapeless denim jumper (but hey! for those that wear them- they’re comfortable, so leave ’em alone!) We are modest, but fashionable (no mid-driffs,thighs or cleavage showing please).
    I have interests in developing my own body products ( sugar scrubs, lotions, lip balms, baby care items,etc) and my husband is totally behind me and helping me get my business going.
    So, I wanted to be the next Madonna growing up and was on my way to do so when I met the LORD. I am no longer holding to that dream. GUess what? I look back on that dream and find myself TRULY asking WHY would I have ever wanted to go in that direction? Was I taken against my will, and brainwashed and beaten by my husband to give up such a thing? absolutely NOT! My husband is helping me to do some recording that I feel GOOD about and HE is my greatest FAN!

    My husband is truly my protector- but NOT my brain. HE truly loves me as CHrist loves me (though of course he is NOT perfect). I KNOW my husband would give up his life for me in a heart beat.
    Pregnancy, labor, birth, and sometimes even nursing, is not all that easy, BUT I love it and don’t regret it at all.My husband is with me every step of the way. He admits he doesn’t understand everything that I may go through with all of the hormonal complexities, but does whatever he can to be sure I feel secure and truly happy.
    I feel so rewarded having my newborn beside me and all of my family coming in afterwards to welcome our little one.
    We would not deny necessary medical care for any one of our children though we do try to be more preventative in our approach so it is only truly for something necessary to go to the doctor. We are NOT in any way perfect parents, but we LOVE our children and care for them and pray for them every day.
    My children are HAPPY! JOYFULL! They are not “beaten” (as one commentator so carelessly assumes all QF children are). they are well disciplined and cared for.They each have personal interests and to the very best of our abilities we are trying to see to it that they recieve what they need to persue their goals.
    According to your distinctions of the “quiver Full movement”,
    (which, by the way are all very biblical)you did NOT mention in that list ,” husbands prone to child or wife abuse, neglect, starvation, mental/ emotional manipulation, robbers of joy, of intellect, of dreams, of hope, unreasonable and heartless controllers of another’s thoughts, their dress, their speech, etc …etc…” This is for good reason- most men are not monsters, nor was /is GOD to expect wives to be in subjection to their husbands. This subjection is often misinterpreted as a form of slavery by some, but that was NOT GOD’s heart in the matter. this submission was meant as mutual submission between two parties in a contract/ covenant. Your husbands broke that covenant the moment they stopped treating you like wives and began treating you as no more than cattle. This is not the fault of the BIBLE or those that take GOD’s word as truth. but the fault of those that take truth and manipulate it to justify their abominable behavior. You (some of you) make it sound like there is no freedom if you believe the word is true.

    Again, I am so sorry that this kind of abuse has been endured by any woman- but your judgement and blanket style hostility is terrible and certainly NOT Christ-like. You seem to be only perpetuating a cycle of making women like myself to sound as no more than adilpated twits that had to be sick in the head to do such a terrible thing as actually love her husband and feel loved by him and to LOVE her children.

    I am not a calvanist, armenianist, reformist, dominionist, whatever. If you must label me- I am a child of GOD.
    I really reject labels. They just seem to be a convenient way to be a name-caller and to hurt people which is something that is certainly NOT biblical at all.

    I will pray for you- your pain seems to be very real and fresh to you still as I read this here in 2010.

    Posted by Lorinda | February 23, 2010, 7:20 pm
  92. Thanks for the background info on the Kwiverful Kult. The first I heard of these misogynistic creep-o-zoids was when the Duggar sideshow rolled onto on the scene. It seems like yet another ploy for men who failed to make much of themselves in competitive society feel important. Suddenly instead of being stock clerks or whatever, they could become “patriarchs” and boss their wives around! And have lots of sex! And if the wives complained they were going straight to hell. What a deal! I strongly suspect that if the Messiah were to show up tomorrow one of his first stops would be the Duggar warren where he would give old Joe Bob Duggar or whatever his name is a good ass kicking.
    For the record, I loathe every religion that denigrates women. That goes for orthodox Judaism, Muslims, Mormons and assorted whacko brands of fundamentalist Christianity.

    Posted by Sally | November 11, 2010, 12:04 am
  93. God does not make cookie cutter Christians!

    I have read with interest the many comments about the quiverfull movement. As a young married woman I did not want to have children. I wanted to teach school, be an artist and ride horses. I carried lots of guilt for my choices due to having been to a Bill Gothard seminar where they taught wifely submission and other quiverful rules. Fortunately, I was friends with a very wise Christian lady who had been through much trial and growth because her husband survived 12 bullets in a store robbery told me God does not make “cookie cutter Christians”, meaning each Christian has to follow the individual path God has laid out for them….It is a personal relationship and we do not always follow closely, sometimes not at all. The problem is that sometimes we think that what God wants in someone else’s life that He must want for us and then we mistakenly try to put those ways of living on ourselves as being the only way. And the results of following God’s will for other people can often have bad results. I.e. Andrea Yates- poor woman who drowned her 5 children? Her doctor told her to take more time between children so she could mentally/physically and emotionally heal. The husband did not listen, blindly following what quiverful says and now the woman is in jail, her husband remarried with other children.

    I have struggled with the legalism of gothard, quiverfull and other seemingly “this is what God said to do” ministries and groups. I never wanted nor had children. Was I wrong? So I decided to do a little research on the subject of christian families and this is what I found…
    For centuries large families were the norm for christians and non-christians alike since large families offered more help in subsistence living to tend fields and animals. Birth control was either unheard of or not readily available.
    Back in the mid 20th century, many dedicated American missionaries chose to have only one or a few children and often left them behind for others to raise as they went into sometimes dangerous mission fields. That was considered a truly high calling to give up your children to follow God into the mission field. When did that stop becoming God’s way? How did those missionaries, truly intent on following the will of God, miss out on quiverful teachings?
    A famous preacher called Peter Marshall (the movie A Man Called Peter is truly inspirational!) had only one son. How did such a holy man of God miss preaching quiverful instead choosing to preach following God through a relationship with Jesus Christ?
    Andrea and Rusty chose to obey quiverful teachings instead of the doctor who told her to stop having kids until the hormones and other problems from having kids so close together could heal. Now her children are dead, she is in prison for life, her husband divorced and remarried with a new baby. If QF promises that God will provide for all those babies He gives a family, why did He not provide sanity and instant healing for the Yates and protection for their children?
    Perhaps the answer to all those samples above is God does not make cookie cutter christians. God has a different plan for every one. It is a mistake to try to follow God’s plan for others.
    What is interesting how in nature God has made so many millions of species, each created with a different way of adapting to its environment, surviving, procreating, etc. I believe God does this with His people too! Here are only a few of God’s one time only wonders———
    There was only one Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt and witnessed the one and only parting of the Red Sea, only one Noah who rode out the flood with all the animals on the one and only ark, only one Abraham who by faith believed God’s promise to make him a nation (Sarah had his one son of promise) one David who using only one stone, brought down a giant. And one Mary who was visited by the one Holy Spirit to become mother of the one and only Jesus who proclaims that he is the only One by whom salvation can be had. None of them attended any Gothard seminars or heard a Billy Graham speak and quiverfull was their only way of life because there was no birth-control. Nor were there cars nor electric lights back then but we use them now without feeling sinful. And God has made only one YOU and one ME…an incredible distinct personality found lost and wandering that He will paint and frame into one masterpiece! And that masterpiece will look like no other.

    Posted by esbee | September 22, 2013, 9:41 am
  94. Dear Heart, those quiverfulls are scary. Glad you posted. By the way, i am a Bible believing fundie.

    Posted by susanbotchie | January 6, 2015, 2:53 pm


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