This post may be a doozy. No matter how I type it up, it's gonna step on some toes and probably make someone mad. Even if I choose "Sunday Best" for the font and put a big bow on the title. Still, I think it's one I need to post, and I'm hopeful it'll generate some serious thinking, introspection, and self-examination in all generally, and in a smaller audience specifically.
Many who visit this blog are from patriocentric families. Of this group, a large slice are no longer involved in or promoting patrio beliefs. Some who read here are still in patriocentric homes, both children (some as adults) and parents. This particular post is aimed primarily at the latter group.
A few weeks back, over on Quivering Daughters, Hillary addressed some Anonymous comments from a proponent of patriocentricity that conveyed concern that sites and messages like hers were making non-abusive people and situations in patriarchal families appear abusive, or, manipulating young women to believe they've been abused. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Hillary and many others speak from convictions rooted in their own experience and their own ever-expanding understanding of the nature of Christ. The same is true of me, even though my experience is a little different as someone outside the movement yet still deeply injured by it. I'm sure that many who read my blog believe I'm damaging good, godly people and hurting the unity of godly families. Many others may feel I'm making much ado about nothing.
I'm going to present a few questions here. Through these questions I'll be attempting to establish some thresholds and parameters. If these questions pose a threat to families "getting it right", they should be very easily and quickly answered, with no need to qualify the answers or add disclaimers.
To parents in patriocentric homes...
If your child, particularly adult children living at home, were to choose a path other than patriarchy and refuse to be submissive to it, would it cause you the same distress as if they were to leave the Christian faith altogether?
Do you consider the two (patriarchy and Christianity) intertwined and inseparable?
Would you consider this child rebellious and a prodigal?
Would this child be subject to double-standards that your submissive children aren't?
Would it bring your happiness crumbling down, cause you to feel like a failure as a parent, or cause your world to come grinding to a halt with emotional turbulence and tension?
Would this child be punished emotionally? Ostracized?
Would the loss of the human authority structure totally disrupt your faith, and totally knock the family's spiritual focus off course?
To children in patriocentric homes...
If you were to reject the patriarchal teachings of your family, would you be treated as if you were rejecting Christ? Labeled rebellious? Labeled as the "black sheep"? Would you be punished emotionally?
Do you fear expressing your own spiritual convictions to your parents? Do you fear holding a different view of scripture than that of your father?
Is your family more concerned about your submission to your father than your growth in Christ?
Does your family connect the two?
Does your situation dictate that you pay more attention to your family's external, cosmetic message (keeping up appearances) than to it's personal spiritual integrity and character behind closed doors?
To both groups, if you answered yes to even one of these questions, you're in a spiritually/emotionally abusive family or a red alert potential spiritually/emotionally abusive family. This isn't an indictment of any particular parents as "bad" people, and it in no way suggests that parents who answered yes don't love their children. Even the best intentioned of people can be deceived and caught up in something that takes on a life of it's own, eventually hurting even those we love most. I think it's important to remember that we never hear about good intentions until we've witnessed some really bad results.
To parents who answered yes and wonder what you can do to change things...A good start would be to determine the things that are at the absolute core of your family beliefs and vigorously double-check them against scripture, all while seeking God diligently and relentlessly in prayer for guidance and wisdom. Be resolute in pursuit of truth. Be willing to look right in the face of ugliness that you'd have never before acknowledged as part of the family spiritual and emotional portrait. Better to put your faith in an unchanging God, and His words and ways, than in any man-made formula. It's never too late to begin working toward amends. Talk about it with your family, but ONLY when you can do so while maintaining emotional safety for your children. If they fear any kind of retribution, they'll never talk honestly, and nothing good will come from it.
To the children who answered yes, be resolute and persist in your search for Christ and His truth, be resolute in dealing with the realities you're in as exactly what they are, and to read some wonderful insight and advice from someone who has been right where you are, please read this excellent post at Quivering Daughters.
If you aren't in an abusive or extreme potentially abusive family, none of my questions above should cause, or should have caused, you any kind of distress, and should be answerable with a "no" that doesn't require second thoughts.
I wish I had a magic wand I could wave across the patriarchal landscape and make it all better. To those who are hurting beyond my own ability to help...I'm sorry. I pray for you.