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Published Date: July 23, 2014

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Published Date: July 23, 2014

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The Harmful Practice of Patriarchy: The Tenets Need to Go, Too (Part 2)

The culture of patriarchy stems from the tenets discussed in Part 1, but there are two subtle deceptions that have created unhealthy homeschool environments.

  • God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.

They are worth some commentary:

That mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” bothers me, personally. Here’s why. My wife, Wendy, and I are proud parents of sixteen children. The biblical admonition to have children clouds the patriarchy issue, often confusing it with another problematic ideology called “quiverfull.” In fact, my wife and I have made it a sort of ministry to explain what we actually mean by the term “quiverfull.”

Here’s where patriarchalists have “quiverfull” wrong: the “blessing” of children is used as a tool for control. They see childbearing as a mandate born of duty, not of love. Their argument is numerically detailed and legalistic, attempting to promote a formula for world domination. It’s rather sick, an abomination of the beautiful, fulfilling, and rewarding gift of children.

Wendy and I have reams of writing on this topic. Our book, Love Another Child, dives deeply into what it means to love children and welcome them as gifts from God. It has nothing to do with breeding contrary worldviews (as many of the patriarchalists are subtly seeking to do), but everything to do with the blessing that children are. The book’s subtitle says it all: Children. They’re blessings. Always.

The same goes for the next tenet, the one that emphasizes “a biblical view of God and the world.” This is as loaded as a fallacy gets, because obvious to everyone but the patriarchalists, they are pushing their own view, not the Bible’s.

This is where all the legalism fills the gaps. Patriarchal families tend to emphasize how guys and girls should dress, how teens should date or court, and how families should alienate themselves from anything they deem too “worldly.” Perhaps this is why patriarchy was so welcome in the homeschool movement. Homeschoolers sought to educate the humanity out of their children, and patriarchy acted as the silver bullet to that end.

All this leads to a point that homeschoolers need to grapple with: patriarchy harms the family. Mothers, fathers, and children alike.

The harm done towards mothers is clearly evident, especially for those who are natural-born leaders, forced to stifle their God-given talents. Patriarchy attempts to bend the nature of a woman who happens to be a leader at heart. And Phillips/Gothard knew this. Their businesses and ministries consisted of women who were doing a heavy share of the managerial load. They were hypocrites, allowing female leadership when it suited their interests, and thwarting it when it didn’t.

Patriarchy harms men, too. The ideology puts men in a box defined by the leaders of the patriarchy movement. Not all men are leaders, but they have been shamed in patriarchal cultures, expected to excel in areas for which they lack gifts. I’ve witnessed weird, dysfunctional undertones in patriarchal families where the women secretly wield leadership through deception and manipulation, and the man postulates his “biblical leadership role” on Sunday morning while getting thrown around the rest of the week.

And the children—oh, the children! Patriarchy relishes the idea that children should stay home into adulthood to help their father (boys and girls alike), and girls only able to leave by betrothal to another man deemed worthy by the “key-holding” father. An online response offers a home to testimonials of the dangers of abusive patriarchal homes.

If anything good has come from the sex scandals of homeschool leaders, it is this: homeschoolers are waking up and kicking out the poisonous tenets of patriarchy. And good riddance.

One final note: I am not Mr. Clean here, casting my stone at you or homeschoolers who have fallen for the tenets of patriarchy. As a homeschool dad of over twenty years, I was seduced, too, and have had to deal with the painful results of the patriarchal ideology. If you find yourself caught up in it, I invite you to question what you were been taught to believe. You will certainly find that the patriarchal road you are traveling on is not the narrow path after all. My hope and prayer is that your honest quest for the truth will bring your family a fresh discovery of freedom, joy, and love.