Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Only Advice I Know To Give

This is a post I've struggled with for some time, desiring to write it, wanting desperately to write it, in fact, but, not wanting to hurt those already hurting. Those of you reading this who are young women in P/QF families, having come to a place in your journey where you're examining the things you've been taught, yearning to find and hold on to those things which are true and good and right - you are my heroes. God forgive me if I ever needlessly add to your turmoil. It's to you that I feel I must write this...

What I'm writing here is from a combination of my own painful experience with my promised bride - and her family - and the experiences of numerous daughters of this movement. I'm not writing from whim, or from personal preference, but rather from the heart of the aforementioned experiences and with a heart for you

Many times since I've started this blog I've been contacted by young women in positions similar to the position my ex was in (not to mention by some young men in the position I was in), asking "What should I do?" It isn't my place to make that decision for you, but in this post I'm going to give the only advice I know to give, and give the reasoning behind that advice.

My advice: If at all possible, and as soon as possible, LEAVE

There's no real alternative. There's no "talking things out" with P/QF parents. There's no possibility of "making them understand." For there to be an alternative, for there to be a compromise, for there to be any "understanding" of and tolerance of your independence and autonomy, your parents will have to forsake a system of belief that they've sold the entirety of their souls to. The jar you've been raised in, either shaped by or consisting of the parental authority lorded over you, must shatter. As I wrote recently...

when you plant a seed in a jar, you sentence the plant that will result to a best case scenario of growing into the shape of the jar - but NEVER exceeding it. No matter how much the sprigs and shoots want to spread out and reach toward the sun that shines on them and gives them life, the jar forms a barrier that prevents it. More often than not, in the P/QF paradigm, the parents, particularly the father, play the role of the jar. Sadly, I think the reason that young women leaving the P/QF lifestyle encounter so much grief, resistance, and totally unnecessary and abusive drama is a simple one: For them to ever live in freedom, the jar has to be shattered. Few P/QF parents volunteer for as much. Exit is NEVER simple. NEVER easy. The jar has to shatter.

And keep in mind, to LEAVE means more than a change in physical location. Moving out of the patriarchal home isn't the full extent of LEAVING. Not even close. You have to make a commitment to LEAVE the teachings, wiping everything clear down to a foundation of Christ and rebuilding. Until you can do this, you haven't LEFT. For every good thing your parents taught you, there are equal amounts of apostate, poisonous, destructive beliefs that need to be cleansed from your heart and system. This will be a process, not an immediate thing, and you need to be patient with yourself while wholly committed to seeking truth in your life. It won't be easy. Nothing about it will be easy.

LEAVING will likely mean losing meaningful relationship with your parents and likely with siblings who still buy in to the beliefs, or with siblings still too young to have a choice. LEAVING will likely mean losing relationship with the majority of your extended family and friends who've been significant parts of your life. Generally, there's a reason that the core group of your family's friends were your family's friends - the sociopathy that the belief system breeds. LEAVING these people, and not having them in your life, is, for at least a season, the spiritually and emotionally healthiest thing that can happen for you...and I'm soooo sorry for that.

Like my ex, most of you want to see your family as "good people", and you'll need to come to grips with the fact that, apart from their religion, they probably ARE "good people", but because of their religion, the truth is, they behave as something significantly less than good. Consider that they'll make an equal or greater crisis out of you leaving patriarchal authority than they would out of you leaving the Christian faith. This kind of willingness to divide and destroy (and they WILL destroy you, emotionally, if possible, to bring you back under their "authority") over utterly non-essential to the faith issues is one of the manifestations of sociopathy commonplace in this movement. You're gonna need to acknowledge this before you can truly begin to heal. 

A "crisis" such as your "rebellion" will cause parents, particularly fathers, to become narcississtic at best and sociopathic at worst - and the worst is usually what you'll see. From the Profile of a Sociopath...

Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims. 

Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."

Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way. 

Shallow Emotions
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others. 

Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

Other sociopathic traits, many of which apply to P/QF parents...

  1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
  2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
  3. Authoritarian
  4. Secretive
  5. Paranoid
  6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
  7. Conventional appearance
  8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
  9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
  10. Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
  11. Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
  12. Incapable of real human attachment to another
  13. Unable to feel remorse or guilt
  14. Extreme narcissism and grandiose
  15. May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

Other than in a couple of very isolated instances where P/QF parents slighty loosened their stranglehold over their families over time (usually after significant, often irreparable, damage had been done), from my experience, and that of others, I'll tell you the following...

  • Barring a miracle from God, your parents aren't going to change their beliefs, or their behaviors toward any perceived "rebellion". It would be too traumatic for them to admit what they've done to their family. They most likely aren't going to volunteer to be shattered (as the JAR you're planted in needs to be).
  • They will lie and feel no remorse.
  • They will bear false witness against you to all of those in your life.
  • They will bear false witness against those in your life of whom they don't approve.
  • They will treat their lies as truth, and live in such a way as if those lies are true.
  • They will deny most, if not all, of the hurtful things said to you and abusive actions toward you.
  • They will mock and belittle you in personal communication, perhaps even laughing in your face about whatever you share with them.
  • They will attempt to diminish your personhood, autonomy, heart, and mind - all in effort to bring you "back under".
  • Every single thing done toward you will have a purpose or ulterior motive, with a goal of keeping you emotionally off-balance and malleable.
  • They will attempt to undermine your personal life - perhaps even your professional life (whatever it may be).
  • In many cases, they will attempt to undermine the personal and professional lives of those who they feel are feeding your "rebellion".
  • They will attempt to use the bible against you as a weapon.
  • They will have no fondness, sympathy, or empathy for your feelings, your desires, or for your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • They will ONLY encourage you to go places, do things, or talk to people (who they know will guilt and manipulate you) that will bring you "back under" their authority.
  • If you refuse their "authority", you'll be considered, and treated as, expendable - as will anyone else in your life who they feel stands in the way of their designs for you. 

I'm so sorry to tell you these things.

Many of you have seen manifestations of these things within your families in reaction to nothing more than everyday life and stresses. Many others among you have experienced these things, and more, in your own journey out of the movement. Others may be saying, "But my family is NOTHING like that." Just question - critically, meticulously, and very openly - your family's belief system and parental authority over you, a grown woman, and I'm sorry to say that I can practically guarantee that you'll see manifestations of all I've written here. It WILL happen. The movement and beliefs demand it. And all of it over totally non-essential matters to salvation.

Please do the math - beliefs that require and demand sociopathy to be defended, and only in the most meaningless, non-essential aspects of the faith - and see if this is something you genuinely want to be continually poured into your life.

To LEAVE doesn't mean to cease to love or to honor. There's no greater way for an adult to honor his or her parents than to seek and follow Christ, and Christ alone, with a whole heart.

You'll have to LEAVE. In every way.

I'm so sorry.


  1. This morning I woke up and said, "The jar has shattered." I hope this is a true statement. Your article is true. Thank you, Lewis.

  2. Yes, you are right that leaving is often the only option. Sometimes, after one child leaves, there is more openness and the jar shatters. Other times it takes more than that.

    For those who are debating leaving, especially if you are the oldest, keep in mind that your leaving may (no guarantee, but may) open the door for your siblings to be free eventually. At the very least, you can go get established so that you can help your siblings do the same when they are old enough.

    Lewis, I wish I could say my family was different. But I can't really; it just didn't show to the outside world as much. The only good changes came because the jar partially shattered.

    Thanks for being brave enough to state it like it is.

    I remember the first time someone suggested to me that I should leave home. I was totally stunned. It took a while for me to actually leave physically, but I started leaving the kool-aid alone and thinking through things for myself. For me, the change was gradual, but steady.

  3. The safest and easiest thing for them to believe will be that you are not a Christian, were never a Christian, or maybe you lost your salvation, depending upon their doctrine.

    That is, of course, a lie from the devil.

  4. Here's hoping many read & follow your advice. They are not safe in those families and situation. Please please LEAVE.

  5. There is a lot I'd like to say here ~ perhaps it's so much that there are no words ~ but in Scripture we are often described using the language of a garden. Like trees of righteousness. Branches in the vine, olive plants. And your analogy, Lewis, of the jar, is so appropriate because in a container garden, growth and shape are constrained by the walls of vessel. This is the entire world of the plant.

    Like you say, for extended growth and health, the jar must shatter.

    I'd like to offer the reminder that God, very tenderly, promises that:

    A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. Isaiah 42:3

  6. Lewis, thank you for bringing this issue up and for highlighting the characteristics and the dynamics involved. Leaving is very difficult since many cannot leave without a long process of facing fears and accepting empowerment which goes against everything they have been taught. As you know, the emotional conditioning is very strong. I know this from experience. I hope those reading your message will find comfort in knowing they can find love and support after they leave.

  7. I agree one hundred percent. I knew the only way to get out was to leave, from my early teens, but I still wanted to believe that they were good people, who had my best at heart. My escape was getting married, and I am so thankful that my husband traveled out the mindset along with me over the next 4 years, but for those first 4 years of marriage we were completely controlled by our parents, because you are right. You cannot reason with them, you cannot converse with them, you cannot change their minds. My parents started to change some after my sister ran away from home, but so many things are still the same. I cannot explain how much my life has changed since I left the mindset in the last 2 years, its been alot of work, and a crazy emotional ride, but I have never been happier in my entire life, and I no longer think about death and killing myself.
    Leaving is so worth it!!!

  8. This is so so very true, Lewis.
    When the relationship becomes abusive whether it be family, husband, or church, if you are of legal age get out and fast.
    If you are not of legal age contact local authorities or find a trusted friend who will protect you till you can get out.
    I am going to link this on is profound and much needed advice.

  9. i'd like to add that it's not JUST spiritual abuse that does these things.

    in my family, while my mother's conversion to Christianity gave her more ammo, the underlying issue of control was already there - in her mind, our ENTIRE POINT, as HER children, was to be and to become what SHE wanted.

    it took not me leaving, not my middle sister [her favorite] leaving, but me winning custody over my youngest sister - me, the one who got married at 17 in an act of "rebellion" [to keep her from regaining custody from my father], the one who refused to convert to Christianity with her [and yes, she DID use that in court], me, the "bad" one [despite the fact that i'm the only one of us 4 children who has NEVER done drugs, drank only rarely and only got drunk 2, both after i was 21, despite the fact that i was the ONLY one who got straight-As, while my sisters barely passed...]

    me getting custody shocked her to her core. at first, she blamed EVERYTHING else - the court must be "corrupt" and i somehow "bribed" the judge, for example.

    but... after a while, there was no one, and nothing, left to blame.
    and she CHANGED.

    i've always loved my mother. now, i LIKE her. i'll call her and we'll talk for HOURS. she RESPECTS me now. she knows WHY i got custody of my sister [too late, it saddens me to say - my sister is 28, and my mom has custody of her two kids, because she REFUSES to take care of them.]

    and i have absolutely NO fears of her having my niece and nephew. she learned, she changed, and now she rocks.

    but it took the loss of EVERY SINGLE PERSON who'd "supported" her scorched-earth methods of parenting to bring her out of it. and the loss of ALL of her children.

    it CAN happen, is what i'm saying, if one is able to push it that far. the risk is utterly destroying any hope of a future relationship - but that's already at risk. i'm NOT saying anyone SHOULD do it. but if you WANT to, it MIGHT be possible.

    if that makes any sense at all.

  10. A friend linked to your post on FB. I read it and so much of it resonated with my personal experiences. The oldest of 5, it was my Mom, not Dad who exerted the iron-fisted control over every aspect of my life. My husband went through hell and back during our Courtship and engagement and had his good name and good reputation (that he deserved in every way) completely ruined by the horrible things said by my parents. It was a back-lash when they realized they had lost me to him.

    Even after we were engaged, despite him pleading with me that what was going on in our home was wrong and constituted abuse it took my Mom reaching out and choking me for it to "click" on a deep level that it was truly Ok for me to leave. (I was 22 years old and working a full time job as a responsible adult) Not only Ok but probably the right thing to do. Although I did end up moving physically from the home with their permission (that they later retracted) that moment was key for me "leaving" their control mentally.

    Leaving the home was a traumatic thing for my two younger siblings but the way has successfully been smoothed for the last two. I think my parents are finally resigned to the reality that their kids WILL leave eventually no matter what horrific tactics they take and have decided that keeping something of a relationship is better and more effective than vicious slashing of bonds. It was truly heart-breaking for me to leave being forbidden to ever speak to my younger siblings still in the home again but in hindsight I can say it was the best thing I ever did. Both for myself and for them.

    Thanks again for this post. I hope it will help and encourage others out there who find themselves in hyper controlling, spiritual and otherwise abusive homes.

  11. As a sister who has walked this path I gotta say. (((((Hugs)))) to all brave enough to do this. It hurts deeply to walk away from one's family. It's like a death.

    Freedom from this does not come cheaply or free.

  12. You must have had my stepfather in mind with your description: lack of remorse, fits of rage, the need for adulation,grandosity and lying while being superficial charming. He was not from the quiverful movement because this did not exist back in the 1960s and 1970s, but he definitely used Catholicism as a weapon.

    Even all these years later, I have a great deal of trouble trusting that people are genuine after raised with so much phoniness. Oh yes, he also did try hard to separate me from my clothes without success. I was 8 when my mother and step-father married. I am now 53 and a widow.

  13. great article - i cover some of the obsession with power and control in my blogs and in my book: Jesus v. satan: The Message of the Wilderness Temptations - wish i had your blog as a resource two years ago - in my book i did a short profile on a gothardite family & also address the evils of sociopathy & narcissism.

  14. Don't forget the mothers. Sometimes they are even more ardent than the QF/P fathers, and they work to maintain the system. They tell their daughters they must obey their fathers, they tell their daughters they will break their parents hearts if they leave, they poor guilt over their daughters and leave confusion and pain in their path. I know because that was true in my case. My dad believed I was under his authority too, but he wasn't as interested in enforcing it at was my mom.

    The worst of all is the little siblings, because if you were raised as a QF daughter, there are many. I have to say, though, not all is lost. My sister left too, and even though the next two brothers both stayed in, the third is reaching out. Because you know what? It's not just the daughters. Sons can get hurt too. He feels like my parents are keeping him in a box and curtailing his freedom and all he wants is out. And you know what? He came to me, because he knew that if anyone understood it would be me. So those of you leaving younger siblings? Yes, it hurts. But there is hope.

  15. There are so many of us having to leave all that we have known and we are not even from p/qf families. There is SO much toxic/extreme/unbalanced/hyper-fundamental/"Christian"/religious groups out there to avoid and not go near with a ten foot pole. I realize that supporting any of these churches/ministries/establishments that can be characterized like this would be putting my stamp of approval upon what they believe or how they believe. We must shatter the jar, Lewis, in all areas of spiritual abuse and control. Thank you again, for your voice, one crying in the wilderness,preparing the way for the Lord...the real and loving Jesus.

  16. Lewis. Tough post for so many reasons. Thank you for writing it. It is A.W.E.S.O.M.E!

    To tell you the truth, it is very pertinent to me in my current life. The emotional desire to be accepted and loved by all my former peeps is so strong that it becomes quite unhealthy, at times. I am almost to the point that I can be satisfied in who I am.

    Frankly, my wife and kids are depending on that. They need a dad and a husband who is confident in himself and where he is going, rather than some wishy washy dude, concerned only about which way the winds are blowing while looking over his shoulder.

    Again, thank you.

  17. Lewis, i needed to read this so much. i spent last night safely sleeping in a friend's house. Thank you, thank you for being a man, being willing to talk, and for understanding. your voice is rare and so necessary and needed. god love you for looking out for people who need help.

  18. Bravo, heidi! Way to go! My family is always available for physical support, should anyone ask.

  19. This makes me want to cry. So much manipulation. So much sadness. I pray that these kingdoms of man will be torn down and all the captives (including the parents) will be set free.

  20. This must not have been an easy post to write.

    When the sons and daughters leave, where can they go if they have no one to help them?

  21. Violet...For those who have no options, we're (without going in to who "we" are) trying to put in place some options, or at least AN option, for them.

    Some individuals have also stepped up and taken in young people essentially orphaned by P/QF doctrines, and just in the last few days others have volunteered to. They're appreciated immensely.

    One thing those willing to help need to realize is that people coming out of this movement need someplace to be able to breathe and heal for a period rather than being thrust out into a world they usually aren't prepared for. Also, while they usually haven't left the faith, the LAST thing they need is more religion. I think it was on the Wartburg Watch were I saw the old Mark Twain quote about a cat who gets burned walking across a hot stove will never go near a hot stove again - but he won't go near a cold one, either. Same with those orphaned by P/QF...they need space to find their own way with Christ.

  22. I wonder why this even has to be said. It's a good post, but I wonder why it isn't already the obvious solution to people caught up in it. Others of us have done it before.

  23. Wonderful advice and something every girl from a P/QF family needs to read!

  24. Katy-Anne, I haven't read your blog so perhaps you share more of your story there, but based on your statement, I'm guessing that you are one who saw clearly and left. For others it's not always so simple. Brainwashing and fear play their part, among other things.

    When I was a child, resistance to my parents (over things like school work, being kind to my siblings, and chores) trademarked my life, albeit in a very passive-aggressive way. When I became a Christian at age 12, God took that snotty attitude away. I was just a kid and that was appropriate at the time. The thing is that I wanted so much to follow Jesus, that I took that child-like submission right into adulthood, because I was taught that is the godly thing to do. I was so scared of displeasing God with even so much as a wrong attitude. I was brainwashed to believe that questioning my parents was sin and rebellion and out of a genuine desire to obey God, I remained completely under their control into adulthood. I was very passive by nature and I realize that a spunkier girl would probably have seen through the spiritual manipulation sooner. That wasn't me, though.

    Also, simple fear holds a lot of young women hostage. A girl may be miserable, but in these families she often has no skills, no job, and sometimes little education and social experience--so the thought of leaving is so terrifying that she buries or ignores what she sees.

    That's why it's necessary to point this out so clearly.


  25. Katy-Anne...The only answer I know to give on that is that mind control works at different degrees of intensity on different people. With my ex, for instance, despite knowing that much of what she was taught was BS, if standing up to the BS meant going against the majority of people in her life, she'd succumb to the BS rather than oppose it. The mind control and manipulation kept her so personally beaten down with guilt that she NEEDED the validation and approval of the people controlling her.

    Jim Jones and Jonestown could also serve as an example. A few saw through it and escaped, but most gladly drank the Flavor-aid and died, while a few others knew something was wrong, but felt they had no escape (and Jones did his best to give them no escape), and died with the devoted.

    1. I don't mean to be flip, but you're the only person I've ever seen who correctly identifies the drink as Flavor Aid and not Kool-Aid.

  26. It's very scary, Katy-Anne. Many of these adult children have been denied the opportunity to make social connections outside of parental controls. They honestly have no one to help, no idea about the basics of life: why you need a social security card, birth certificate, how to fill out a job application, deal with the DMV, obtain shot records, why you need proof of education and how to get that.

    It is not like people can just walk out the door into the wilderness and stumble upon a safe place to stay by nightfall, like happened to Disney's Snow White. :\

    But there are people who can and are willing to help. I suggest emailing Lewis as a start. He can put you in touch with other people who can help. There is hope!

  27. That's a good explanation, Lewis. It does affect different people differently, just like any spiritually abusive/mind controlling/cultic organization.


  28. I think it's wonderful that people want to help these girls who so desperately need to get out from under this oppression. However, folks who decide to take them in should heed the following story and pray that God protects their marriage.

    I'm not saying that all girls would manipulate and act the way this young lady did. I'm just saying that Satan has ways of deceiving people and you have to stay on your guard. Emotional circumstances have a way of binding people's hearts together, and sometimes it's very hard to avoid.

  29. Honestly, Anon, that whole situation with the older man and the young girl described in NGJ, was ENTIRELY THE MAN'S FAULT. If he allowed a young, emotionally unstable woman to overtake his wife in his life... well, that's his fault, not the young girl. It's up to the STRONGER person to set boundaries, not the WEAKER person.

    Plus, I thought Debi Pearl was very mean to her, and I would have reacted exactly the same way to her "speaking truth in love".

  30. Thanks guys, your explainations make sense, somewhat. Even when one does leave, sometimes they go back into it for a while and have to leave again. I know about the control tactics. I didn't know much when I left, only enough to leave. I am now learning so much more.

    In fact, all this stuff has inspired me to finish college. I'm studying sociology, psychology and writing. I'm hoping to use it to research the social aspects of the fundamentalist movements and the psychological aspects in hopes that delving into this stuff will help others understand it more fully. I have a long way to go myself. I am already making some connections.

    I want to learn to research properly and extensively, and write correctly so that I am taken seriously.

  31. Anonymous...Other than his article on Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families/Cloistered Homeschooled Families (parts of which were excellent, other parts not so great), I'm not a big fan of any of the Pearl stuff. Far too fundamentalist and far too narrow-minded for me.

    Debi's books on marriage/gender roles, from what I know of them (in fairness, I haven't read them and don't want to), are pretty poisonous, and Michael's "To Train Up A Child" is uber-dangerous (Haven't read it either - but children have died).

    I'm just not very trusting of their message on much of anything.

  32. Joanne-Marie, I agree the man was more at fault, but it sounded to me as if he wanted to be of help to her in the beginning. It grew into something he couldn't control and got selfish.

    My point was just that everyone involved needs to be on their guard. Satan is very sneaky and can weasel into innocent relationships and cause devastating problems.

    I'm absolutely NOT saying that the young women will behave in an evil manner, but any female in this type of situation will be very needy and want things that married men should never provide (emotional comfort, time alone to counsel the young woman, etc.) Marriage is a sacred thing and boundaries must be set. It would be the best thing for everyone, including the young woman in pain.

    Lewis, please feel free to delete my comments. I just thought this aspect of helping should be addressed since most folks might not think of it.

  33. No worries, Anonymous...No need to delete any comments. People are always free to read and make up their own mind.

  34. Oddly, it was exactly that article that caused me to bolt from the Pearle's (phlegm spit!). Their stupid, assonine ideas about hitting children - teaching them to do whatever you ask due to fear of you - I had already rejected. But, in this article, while I saw that there might have been issues, I despised the way that Debi and Michael not only treated the people they disagreed with, but assumed they knew their exact thoughts and spiritual condition. They flat out mocked those involved. What flipping idiots!

    The Pearles have a VERY unhealthy view of marriage. While marriage is great and all, and I speak from experience, it is not a sacrament to be held above anything else. They lift it up to that level. I left their cult, puking.

  35. In my opinion, anyone leaving a cult needs a few weeks to do nothing but sleep and look out a nice window, listening to the birds. No new inputs whatsoever. That can come later. Then, once they are fully rested and have realized the beauty of utter laziness (translated: God giving his beloved their rest), they can then decide where they will go from there, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and monetarily.

    Unfortunately for some, I sincerely believe that, if it is atheism they decide to go, then atheism it is. After all, its not up to any man to reach another man or woman's heart. The Holy Spirit can do just fine. And, coming from a cult, learning to trust that your heart can listen to and for and commune with the Holy Spirit is a VERY necessary thing. It is not to be trifled with.

    1. While I really respect your view that if a person's choice is Atheism, it's not up to anyone else to meddle, truly I do, I have to say that, for me, Atheism wasn't a choice - it was a realization.
      When leaving a cult, you really do have to start over at zero, throw EVERYTHING in the dustbin and build a new foundation. For me, that began with 3 simple questions: What do I believe is true? What do I know is true? What can I PROVE is true? And everything had to pass through those three filters. The Bible didn't make it. The existence of God didn't either. I prayed daily about this for over a year with one simple request: God, if you are an all-powerful being who created the heavens and the earth, if you have power to create humans and effect our daily lives, if you are truly real, I ask you to physically touch me. I'd worry about whether God actually desired worship and whether the Bible was actually his dictation or not later, I simply wanted to feel something real, something solid, something other than an emotion. Because my emotions had been so manipulated with charismatic music and fever-pitched hell-fire sermons and the people I'd been surrounded by. Surely a god who could heal the sick and raise the dead could cause the human body to feel a touch! I cried, I begged, I dared, I challenged and I finally realized that simply by asking, I had admitted to myself that I never really believed any of it at all. It was the single most painful realization of my life. It doesn't mean that I didn't WANT to believe; I simply didn't and I couldn't, not without proof - proof that, 20 years later still doesn't exist.
      Upon further examination, none of it really made sense to me. Letting go was a grieving process to be sure. Letting go always is. But I know now that there is a distinct difference between wanting something to be true and it actually BEING true.

  36. IC, rest is definitely a necessary part of healing from any type of cult experience. In fact, it's quite common for people exiting cults to sleep for many hours a day at first.


  37. Agreed. That's my excuse to my wife when I can't get up in the morning.

  38. I desperately want to believe that SOME, even a tiny FRACTION, of P/QF parents will themselves wake up and leave--go into a sort of secular "witness protection" program and return to mainstream Christian life of normal Sunday morning Church, but not too much else. So very sad to see faith run so far away from sanity.

    I feel for the young adults--both male and female--in such families. Never to be an adult. Never to have a choice. Never to [fill in the blank].....

  39. The Pearls make me wanna hurl.

    Having worked with foster children, it is plainly and 100% the man's fault in every way if he enters into any kind of illicit relationship with a guest in his home.

    It's not even debatable.


    I agree that people getting out of a cult need decompression time. I would say ninety days grace would be appropriate. No responsibilities but look after themselves, unless they personally feel up to it. That's just a recommendation, not a law though.

    And not everyone can get that opportunity. Most people have to find work right away in this world, but if you can get the decompression time, by all means take it!

  40. I'm a volunteer "counselor" over at NLQ - but i'm not used very often.

    for the same reasons i probably wouldn't end up housing anyone, even if i volunteered - i'm not Christian, and it makes people who are escaping QF/P REALLY worried to be around someone whose completely not Christian. it's hard enough to escape the bad parts without losing the good - i don't want to make it harder.

    that said - if push came to shove, we'd take someone for a month or 3.

  41. denelian...If I had a litmus test, it wouldn't be "Christian". It'd be "caring". I've said before that non-Christians are often, maybe even usually, a better representation of the Christian ideal of the love of Christ than Christians are.

    Your willingness is appreciated.

  42. Lewis;

    most people who are GOOD Christians feel the way you do - although i appreciate you taking the moment to spell out your stance :)

    still... those who are escaping from a perversion of Christianity have a hard enough time adjusting to *real* Christians - being around someone who isn't Christian - worse, being dependent upon someonw who isn't Christian - is really, really hard. back when i worked at a women's shelter, we had most of a QF family come in [sans husband/father and the 3 oldest boys who refused to leave their father] and... they were *afraid* of me. terrified. i wasn't Christian [or Jewish. or even Muslim] therefor i was *automatically* a "servant of Satan". [the mother was kind enough to inform me that she was pretty sure i didn't KNOW i "served Satan". i took it as it was meant.]

    it's not like i walk around screaming "I was raised Pagan!" [NOT Wiccan. family religion. Wicca, to use, is sort of like, i don't, Lutherism. a johnny-come-lately that we can still get along with :) ] but when someone asks me point-blank "Are you Christian" i say no. if they press for a religion - won't accept "I follow the same Diety in a different way" I'll say i'm pagan.

    but that's enough to freak out people with think Christians like YOU are "Consorting with the Devil", ya know?

    [well - sometimes, i'll say i'm a Unitarian, because i am ALSO a Unitarian - but only with people who aren't going to freak about Unitarians!]

    i help when and where and as i can - sadly constrained now because of my disability - but i REALLY don't want to end up pushing someone BACK into QF/P, because they feel their only options are that or "the devil" because of my religion. it's always been my biggest fear.

    thankfully, my boyfriend is Christian [if Catholic] and i can send him in, instead, if it's something that needs to be done NOW. :D

  43. ugh - please ignore my typos. meds kicking in :(

  44. I cannot express how great a relief it is to read about your experience with your ex-fiance as well as other articles from the Quivering Daughters website because the burden of watching my younger siblings being crunched into the guilt mold that is the patriarchy is too much to stand Almost daily my own escape from that mind hell is too much to stand because learning to truly be self-controlled and resiliant instead of being guilt-controlled and spineless is overwhelming as a grown woman. So thank you for sharing your story so far of what it is like to go up against a grown up toddler and try to remain reasonable and godly in that endeavor.

  45. I have a question. Where do you go for pre-marital counselling when your parents know every pastor in town (and the pastors fall into two types: conservative who think that honour=obey and so liberal they won't even say the name of Jesus for fear of offending) and it is not feasible to search outside of your town?

  46. Do you really know for a fact that the liberal pastors eschew the name of Jesus for fear of offending? That sounds like a criticism from a fundamentalist pulpit. I listened to prejudices like that for years.

    I believed them. So much so that when I visited a more mainstream church the first time, I made an appointment with the pastor to let him know who I was and find it if he was okay with me attending. I was very happily surprised to find a man who loved Jesus and loved people. He was not at all like my fundamentalist preachers had characterized him.

    It's been a long time since I thought about this, but I once believed "Methodists believe you are saved by works" (not true, "Catholics are idol worshipers and Mary is their real god" (not true, "Episcopalians don't believe in any god, they are just a social club" (not true), "Presbyterians are the frozen chosen who don't care if the rest of the world goes to hell" (not true), Lutherans are so liberal they don't even believe the Bible is the Word of God (not true), and the Church of Christ are stuck up and think they are better than everyone else because they don't use musical instruments plus they think their baptism saves people, not Jesus (again not true).

    All of those statements were gross misrepresentations and oversimplifications designed to keep people firmly in the fundamentalist camp and afraid to reach other to other "tribes" of the Christian faith.

    I suggest you make some appointments with these so-called liberal pastors. You might be pleasantly surprised that not everything you've heard about them is true.

  47. My first question would be - Do you feel you need premarital counseling?

    If not, I wouldn't worry about it. If so, then I'd seek out a couple with a healthy marriage, regardless of their standing or position within the church, and ask them their secrets of success. Personally, I'm not a fan of pre-marital counseling from a pastor. At all.

    If your local pastors refuse to officiate a ceremony unless you cede to premarital counseling which they oversee - in my opinion, they've already stepped beyond any authority granted them in the bible...and there are always others who are licensed to legally officiate a ceremony (heck - I know a guy who got his licensing via mail a few years ago just to make an extra $50 here and there), and there's always the justice of the peace if push comes to shove.

  48. "Do you really know for a fact that the liberal pastors eschew the name of Jesus for fear of offending?"
    Oh yes!! I've been in two very liberal Methodist Churches where they basically apologized for being required to read a Bible verse or two. It was very odd. I'm not pretty moderate but I even thought it was odd......

  49. Hopewell, you know Ash? Are you in the same town?

  50. I'll tell you something else these girls need-- a housekeeper and a cook.

    Most have been the (un)hired help so long, they don't know what its like to be loved on a little and have someone else serve *them* for a change :)

  51. Sorry Shadowspring, no I don't know Ash......

  52. Ash, there are a couple of possibilities for you. First, I am a big believer in competent, balanced pre-marital counsel that is as objective as possible. In my mind, that rules out parents doing the counseling because their own son or daughter is involved and it really is a conflict of interest.

    My first recommendation would be the pastor of a healthy, functional church (not a one-man show, not an isolationist group but rather vibrant, growing and solid), preferably a church that you would be confident being a part of.

    If that is not possible or practical, then I think Lewis's suggestion of an experienced couple with a good marriage is valuable. Perhaps two or three healthy couples that can be a good mentoring influence. The problem is that you really do need to cover some ground in premarital - finances, sexuality, in-law relationships, the structure of the marriage, expectations and so forth. You need someone who is a)willing to talk turkey on some pretty personal stuff and b)willing to cut through the twitterpated luuuuuve-struck stares and ask some hard questions in the interest of preventing problems later. If premarital doesn't make you squirm a bit, at least it should give you some serious food for thought.

    That's what premarital is all about... just going into marriage prepared. Not perfect, but knowing more or less what to expect and identifying where your rough spots may be. Whoever counsels you in marriage should be supportive of your relationship with one another (assuming there isn't some glaring issue that is getting overlooked). You could enlist the services of a professional counselor also but that can be quite pricey and if you're wanting to come at this from a Christian perspective, it does somewhat narrow the field of who would be a good fit.

    Hope that helped,


    Jim K.

  53. "the Church of Christ are stuck up and think they are better than everyone else because they don't use musical instruments plus they think their baptism saves people, not Jesus (again not true)."

    As someone who was raised a "7th generation" CoC'er, I can say with certainty that this statement is EXACTLY true. :P They do think they're better than everyone else. We had Sunday School classes for children that taught us why we were better than Baptists, Methodists, and any other "denominationalist" and that they were all going to hell. We alone were the elite who knew the truth of God. Anyone in the CoC who did not believe these things was labeled "liberal" and maybe even not saved.

    1. My daughter A. married a guy whose family is many generation CoC, although he stepped away from the denomination several years before meeting my daughter (so she couldn't be accused of THAT!)
      His family loves her but, a few months before the wedding, his aunt sat them down to express her concerns for A.'s salvation and the validity of her baptism (water/immersion/non-fundy, non-independent, Baptist-affiliated Bible church).
      So, yeah, that statement has some truth. :-)

  54. Thank you everyone for your kind replies, it means a lot that people will actually respond!

    Lewis, we both feel we need the counselling. As Jim K pointed out, love can blind you. Although we have talked about everything from gender roles (him: strong feminist before coming to Jesus, me: strong patriachlist before coming to Jesus, now both of us are discovering what we actually think!) to funeral wishes, to kids and education, to who hates vacuuming more. We already have financial goals and are saving together to pay for a wedding and a car.

    However I know that being in-love can blind us to a persons flaws, and even though I *feel* like I know all of his flaws, I may have overlooked somethign glaring, and ditto him for me. We both have had some pretty complicated stuff going down in our lives, so it would be good to try and get it all "out" before the wedding!

    I will try some couples, and a thought just occurred to me today about trying the university christian centre

    @ Shadowspring. Both of the liberal pastors I have personally spoken to and they believe that Jesus is only an optional way to God, and that any religion is equally valid. This is not what either I or my fiance believes. Thanks for your thoughts though, I know what you mean about misrepresentation!

  55. My husband and I had pre-maritial counseling, and it proved to be an entirely useless waste of time and we had so many better things we could have spent that time on than listening to some arrogant twit go on and on about what he thought. Then again, he didn't like me and didn't want us married and we both knew it.

  56. Most have been the (un)hired help so long, they don't know what its like to be loved on a little and have someone else serve *them* for a change :)

    Connie...You're my hero;)

    What you said there is true in many cases.

  57. Lolz Darcy! Well, you can tell we were teaching the same exclusivist, self-promoting patter over at the Baptist church across the road.

    All of you people at the Church of Christ were going to hell for your false doctrines! And all those Catholics and Methodists and Lutherans and Episcopalians and Presbyterians were going to hell with you. Sucks to be you! (I do hope you know I don't believe this and recognize it as a cult tactic to shut down any possibility of a person leaving the church they were raised in. Who wants to go to hell? ;p)

  58. I believe women who read this will become aware that they cannot continue this way and will do something, but it is hard to be on their shoes to know how they feel. I used to be one of those, luckily, I founf a new husband who takes care of me. In fact, we are going to Argentina on vacation next week. We already have the buenos aires apartments in which we will be staying. I´ve heard it is a very romantic city because of the tango and the river "Rio de la Plata". We´ll see.

  59. My family did "church-hopping" for years trying to find a church that was a conservative and family-centered place (yes, part of our family's growing into a matriarcal prison). The last few churches before I left home were super controlling- the "Charity" churches and some home church type groups of homeschool families trying to "escape the world". But regardless of all the stereotyping of any church body, I found there were, in every denomination I have been exposed to, people who love God and are seeking the truth. Some of the Charity people were very loving and accepting. Some of my dearest friends and prayer partners come from a super modest old fashioned Methodist church. I had some of my most inspiring spiritual times at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) base amoung what my family considered ultra-liberal Christians. I've met many people across the board and found there was genuine lovers of Christ everywhere. Please don't stereotype anyone who says they're from this denomination or that. True Christians will find the uniting bond in Christ regardless of there affiliations.
    Another thing was the strong feelings against the Pearl's ministry. I have been richly blessed and encouraged by much of their work, but one must keep in mind that any person who offers spiritual guidance is essentially human and all they say must be taken with a grain of salt- chew the meat, spit out the bones. One of the dangers of anybody who, unwittingly, gathers a group of followers, is the fact that many people begin to regard them as mediators between them and God and take anything they say as gospel truth, instead of searching the scriptures to see if these things are so. This is not the fault of the person whom God raised up to speak His word, but the fault of the many people who want to spoon-fed Christianity without any work on their part.
    In any ultra-controlling group a lot of times it takes someone preaching the "other end of the pendelum" type doctrine (excuse my Gothardite example there!!) to break the jar and set things free. The Pearls I believe are very balanced, but many people take their child-training advice and use it as a weapon to enforce their stranglehold on their children, and miss the multitudes of times Mr Pearl has cried out that the most important aspect of child training is love, acceptance and "tying heart strings". They only see what they want to see, and when they see anything that looks like "ultimate control" they go whole hog and miss the true message.
    Okay, now I've put in my defence of the Pearls and am willing to get strung up for it. :) I'm not a "swalow everything they say" worshipper of their materials, but I'm just saying there is a lot of good there that shouldn't be thrown out with the bath water.

  60. *cringes* Anon, you may not want to use the metaphor about the baby and bathwater here. ;) lol You might want to go back and read a post or two on here with that title. :)

    And, usually I would agree with you to eat the meat and spit out the bones. But the more I read of the Pearls, the less meat I find. Maybe in person they are very different; I don't know. But what comes across in their writing seems very harsh to me.

    However, I do totally agree with you that you can find good people in almost any system. It was the good people in a bad system that helped me get out of that same system. On the other hand, I've also come to see that abusive people can hide in just about any system. Which kind of destroys my "black and white" thinking patterns. I'm coming to realize that there is good and bad in me too (Rom. 7). I'm not all one or the other.

  61. Anonymous...I'll cut you some slack with the baby, err, (can't even get the rest of the phrase out of my mouth - and don't want to) since you're obviously pretty new here ;)

    As far as the Pearls, rather than get into specifics, I'll just say I disagree about their ministry, finding them extremely legalistic the more I discover. As far as "eating the meat and spitting out the bones", I'd like to borrow phrases from a couple of regular contributors friends Darcy and Jim...

    via Darcy (or actually Mr. Darcy;))...Try the same analogy with brownies and dog crap, and you'll probably pass on the brownies.

    via Jim...If you're regularly spitting out bones, it's time to find a new butcher.

    I hope this doesn't make you feel unwelcome here (because you aren't - I don't like to chase away differing opinions), but if you read much of my material here, I think you'll find I have no patience, whatsoever, for legalistic teachers or teachings.

    I agree with you, entirely, that there are good people, genuine truth-seekers, in all denominations. Regarding the patriachal/QF movement though, in the right set of circumstances (such as "rebellion" of an adult child), without fail, it'll make otherwise decent people/parents do very indecent things to their children. Without fail.

  62. I did not read all of the comments, but one thing that is important to remember is that in the patriarchal/QF movement there is no room for individuality. The family is literally one-minded, the father's mind. If you are raised to just obey and not think, to listen to a 'multitude of counselors' and if you think God is leading you one way,but your parents disagree then your spiritual hearing is not good, then leaving seems impossible. You would be leaving behind your identity, your brain, and possibly your God. By leaving your God, I mean that you will leave behind the God you knew, the one presented by the 'godly leadership', the God who only gives you hardship if you disobey and only gives you good things as a sign of your obedience. So when you leave and face difficulties, which you will, this reinforces the idea that you have made the wrong choice when in reality you are just on a journey to learn who God really is and who He created you to be. It's hard and painful, but Jesus is there every step of the way and he understands pain and hardship, rejection by friends and even parental rejection. Right before He died on the cross, while He bore the weight of our guilt, shame and sin, God, His Father, looked away. God couldn't even look at Him, but because Jesus endured all this for us, we can not only endure, but thrive in His amazing love.

  63. If you are raised to just obey and not think, to listen to a 'multitude of counselors' and if you think God is leading you one way,but your parents disagree then your spiritual hearing is not good, then leaving seems impossible.

    You just described my ex to a TEE. And...she was grossly in error because of the religious fools around her.

    Sad dynamic.

  64. Don't bathe your baby in toxic bathwater!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, just had to get that out there. ;)

  65. Oh my goodness! I actually married into a P/CF family. I was young when we married and so I really didn't know what I was marrying into. My husband and his family lived across the country so I left my family and moved out ot be with him. I remember it being told to me OVER and OVER that I didn't just marry my hubby I married the whole family.

    And so we did jus that, we all bought property together and built homes together on the same acre lot! Everyone worked together and if anyone started talking about wanting to move (that was always me) there would be a family meeting where everyone would go around the room to discuss their dreams of the whole family always living together.

    When I was 37 weeks pregnant my husband had to spend all his time and money into helping build his parents and the other siblings their new home on the place. It was decided that we would get to live in the old shed once we remodeled it. We were all expected to get their home completely finished with the closet shelves perfect and outside door swinging perfectly before our shed could even get started on. That's why

    My husband was always asked to help pay for things his dad or mom wanted. I don't know, the list could go on and on, but what really sticks out in my mind is when my father-in-law was proclaiming his "god-given" authority over his sons he said he could put a gun to MY head and it wouldn't matter because his children obey HIM.

    My husband is slowly coming out of the brainwashing that has been drilled into him for years. It isn't easy. And the parents will curse you for it constantly!

  66. I'm shivering in my shoes right now. Half out of pure, livid, white hot anger, the other half out of "why can't I clean this crap out of Christianity" recognition.

  67. Anonymous...Wow. What a cultic situation your FIL was crafting. I'm very sorry.

    I remember it being told to me OVER and OVER that I didn't just marry my hubby I married the whole family.

    Ugggh. I heard that one, too. SO often. One of the patriarse's favorites. Total buzzphrase that, unless he wanted to control me even into the marriage, had NO real meaning whatsoever in the context he used it. When I kept hearing it, over and over, I finally just had enough of it one day and told my ex, "Look, we say that in the south, too...usually as we roll our eyes. Yes, each of us will bring some 'baggage", good and bad, from our family life and upbringing, into our marriage, but WE, YOU an ME, are 'the family" now, and I ain't buying rings for your whole brood."

    She didn't really even know what "you marry the whole family" means, or at least not in a healthy way, and certainly not in any kind of functional way. It was just a concept that she'd heard repeated so often that it almost had a hypnotic kind of influence over her. It was entirely a buzzphrase to remind her of the importance of her parents in the choice of her spouse.

    I'm gonna touch on that phrase, and how it came to make my skin crawl, in a future installment of my story.

    I had an interesting conversation with a friend (who has extensive knowledge of some of the psychological aspects of mind control) yesterday, and she told me that she believes hypnotic tendencies are rampant within this paradigm - it's part of the mind control process. Just the cultic, repetitive nature of the buzzwords and so forth. I tend to agree with her. It's powerful and fascinating stuff. Sad stuff, too.

  68. Hypnotic tendencies? But...but...we were told that hypnosis was of the devil!

    Big, big sigh. :P

  69. My family is on the brink of kicking me out of home, because I didn't go to church this morning. They brought up the common "Don't forsake the gathering together of believers" and asked me "How would YOU feel if WE stopped going to church?" - and later, when I didn't react, my dad simply said after he told me about all the people who haven't gone to church in years (and possibly all their lives) - and whose lives he thinks are totally messed up and crazy, and how worshipping the Lord anywhere other than in church on Sundays is against His will - and God would be very, very displeased... "Well, let's see how that works for ya." I know he is terrified I'm going to go to hell for this. I feel at peace about it, but had a panicked day. I go about 3 weeks of each month, and sometimes only 2 times. But, I had such a terrible several years in a cultish mega church. I grew up in that church, but didn't see the problems until I was immersed completely in them. And now I feel like I can't float without them carrying me... but they didn't just let me sink... they pushed me under the water. My parents are afraid - so I'm not as upset at them as I am at the church we belonged to (and my parents still attend - but they're NOT involved in ANYTHING - so they can't possibly see what's going on).

    Please help?! I feel so alone in this, but at the same time, I feel like I've escaped a huge snare in leaving that church. So much of what I thought was truth, I've since researched in my Bible - and found soooo much of it to be blatant lies.

    I don't know what to do. I can't afford to leave the house, but they're not welcoming me here anymore without living up to their expectations. If I sucked it up and went to church every Sunday morning with them, things would be perfect. If I miss a day, it looks to them like I've turned my back on God. I don't even know what to believe. I feel like my relationship with God has been a fake, since I know now that so much I learned was legalistic, manipulative, control... and God is a God of grace. I am becoming an abuser, a manipulator, and a control freak with legalistic views on everything. I need help - and I'm SCARED I'm gonna die and never spend eternity with my Lord. :(

  70. I need help - and I'm SCARED I'm gonna die and never spend eternity with my Lord. :(

    I know that sometimes this is hard to hold onto when you've got all these terrible pressures on you, but your relationship to and eternity with the Lord is based ONLY on your faith in Christ - not on any church attendance, not on being in lock-step with your family, and not any work you can perform. Christ did the work.

    You've come a loooong way, much more than many people prove to be capable of, in searching out the truth for yourself.

    If you're asked again, "How would YOU feel if WE stopped going to church?", maybe you should tell them "If you stopped going to THAT church, I'd be thrilled and relieved."

    I can only encourage you to not compromise your OWN spiritual and emotional health. I'd also ask, do you know anyone you can trust, locally, you can talk to safely about your situation, whether it's another pastor or Christian or otherwise? Also, do you know anyone with whom you could room, even if temporarily, until you could get your feet on the ground?

    If you need to, please feel free to contact me at

  71. To young women contemplating an exit from this religious paradigm and from their family home who may be asking themselves "Is it (leaving) really worth the turmoil?" or saying to themselves "It's not worth the turmoil."...

    The very fact that there IS turmoil IS the evidence that it is indeed worth it to leave.

  72. I'm coming in a little late on this discussion, but have been reading intently, and plan to share more eventually.

    But right now, a comment to Ash and the others discussing premarital counseling:

    As someone who left an emotionally abusive marriage (and a church who tried to keep me in that abusive marriage), I have contemplated deeply how in the heck I got into that marriage in the first place.

    One thing I have realized is that the pastoral premarital counseling, while well intended and even what most people would consider deep and even invasive, was a major failure for reasons I won't detail at this point (it's very complex).

    What I now think would be a very helpful exercise for a couple contemplating marriage is this: talk to divorced people. Especially Christians. You know, the ones who have been excommunicated from their church because of the divorce.

    These experienced people will have a lot you can learn from....a lot of mistakes that they have thought about for a long time, and tried to make sense of. If you only learn from the "success stories" you'll miss out on a tremendous opportunity to learn from other people's trials and mistakes.

    It's very sad that divorced Christians are frequently considered outcasts and not worthy of counseling others in marriage, simply because they had one that didn't work out. Having a failed marriage under one's belt doesn't mean s/he doesn't honor marriage. It doesn't mean s/he is cynical, gives up too easily, or would recommend divorce at the first sign of trouble. On the contrary, most divorcees know firsthand the horrors of divorce, and would love to help save another couple from going through that living hell.

    Not that I would suggest taking counsel from someone who cheated on his/her spouse and isn't even repentant....but from the person who was wronged, the person who made a mistake and knows it, the person who failed and deeply regrets it, or the victim of abuse (emotional/spiritual/physical) will be a great source of information and assistance. They will also probably be really honored that you would ask.

  73. To the same young woman contemplating an exit from her family's church...the one who said "I'm scared I'm gonna die..."

    Sweetie, I don't know how old you are, but you sound young. If you can't leave your home right now, it's ok. You can still leave in your heart, and wait until the time is right to leave physically. Your mind is already on the right track. You see the problems, and you know what's wrong. If you are safest FOR NOW attending church every Sunday, then that may be what you need to do FOR NOW. What you do right now, to keep yourself safe, is OK.

    I did a lot of things to keep myself safe while I was trying to leave my abusive marriage. I did things I thought I would never have done, including lie and deceive. Those things go against my nature and my beliefs as a Christian...but they were necessary to keep me safe while I planned my escape. I know God forgives and loves me. I had some very close, very trusted friends (who were NOT in any way connected to my husband or my church) who I told what was happening, and told about my lies and deceptions, and told how guilty I felt...and they validated me and my choices, and helped me stay sane.

    Similarly, I "left" the church/belief system of my mother when I was only 13. But I continued to attend church because I didn't have any other options at that age. I just started learning things on my own, from the Bible, that were different from what I was being taught. So by the time I was physically able to strike out on my own, I was better prepared spiritually and emotionally. I never told my mom the changes I was going through spiritually and emotionally, because I knew that it would cause too much turmoil. I kept myself safe, physically, until the time was right.

    If you are too young to be on your own, then stay and be safe under your family's protection....but keep studying God's word, and keep your "critical thinking cap" firmly in place. In time, you'll have the wisdom and the resources to literally step out on your own.

  74. I had never been taught anything where I could leave. Never had a job, never learned how to drive, my "homeschooling" technically ended at 8th grade so I can't even hold down a job now that I'm 28!

    I eventually went homeless just in order to get out... and am only one step away from homelessness right now...

  75. Consider that they'll make an equal or greater crisis out of you leaving patriarchal authority than they would out of you leaving the Christian faith.

    What kind of crisis would they make out of that? Would it be justified?

    P/QF teachings are "totally non-essential matters to salvation", but what moral compass is a P/QF daughter to use to decide that? The Bible? When I was a Mormon, I thought that I knew what the Bible said. Everyone in this position does.

    If you want to encourage someone to do what's right for her, you can't bar her from choosing a different path than the one that you want her to take. My personal journey led me away from a belief in Christ. Others' don't. But if there's any stigma at all attached to the unbeliever's path, by the people who are trying to help a P/QF daughter, then if she realizes that what's right for her doesn't include Christ she will second-guess herself again.

    And that could derail the whole thing.

    You believe that Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice, to save people's souls from Hell. If you want to save these people from Hell, you have to be willing to sacrifice him as well.

  76. @feathertail...I've advised people to leave religion out of it, or at a minimum, leave the pursuit of faith up to the young woman (or young man) - on her terms.

    The comment you highlighted above is speaking TO P/QF daughters about P/QF parents and their dysfunctional priorities within the practice of their faith. It isn't speaking to those wanting to help.

  77. This is what my SO has been telling me. Seeing it helps. I'm leaving. I'm outta here.

  78. August 16 anonymous, I'm proud of you!!! Would love to hear how it goes if you ever feel comfortable saying.

  79. Lewis, I love your approach here. In many ways there is little if any hope for the parents in P/QF movements. However, there is hope for the children. They have a chance to break out of this while they still can. Go for the young women/men! They are the most likely to break free.

  80. what you said hits me hard and rings so true. i wonder how i can apply this to my situation :/

  81. Tho I wasn't raised in a P/QF family, the "profile of a sociopath" comes rather close to describing my mother. Small wonder I guess, that I fell into a church in my early 20's whose leadership followed along the "sociopath" pattern. Left that church, and fell into another one that was worse. After 20 years total of that, was almost convinced that there was no God. There are days that I still struggle with the idea of just chucking the whole "being in a church" deal.

  82. I lived this out again this year which is especially hard at Christmas. I received the nice version of the "come back home" letter last week, though if the pattern holds true, the next one will be the shaming letter. It will say some variation of "Are you going to keep hating me and remain in unforgivneess, or are you going to repent and get home to take your punishment and get right with God?"

    I'm 45 years old. I've been married for almost 22 years. I'm amazed that they don't quit. And I didn't grow up in patriarchy. We were what many call "fundie-lite." I was not in an overtly controlling home and we were not isolationist. But what I bear in common with people who grew up in QF/P is the idea that my identity is dependent upon my family of origin. My parents expected me to live apart from them for two decades but to live the way they do and to have all opinions in common with them. Any variance is like a sin against the family code.

    What I understand now that I didn't understand 20 years ago was that my parents are much more insecure with who they are than I am about myself. They feel threatened by my own independence (that which they worked hard to achieve, as they couldn't wait for me to be financially self-sufficient and no longer dependent upon them). Their behavior isn't so much a an issue of sociopathy as it is an issue of codependency. They're struggling to survive their own failed and unrealistic expectations -- and their own lack of a healthy sense of self. Being different than them threatens them.

    For me, to follow their desires for me has become a matter of idolatry (honoring them instead of and more than I honor God) and disingenuous living, both things they taught me were serious sins. But they don't understand any of that. They don't understand that getting "back under" their expectations (much of which isn't even religious) is a moral issue for me and a matter of choosing the fantasy over what is real. What they want from me and what I hope to find with them (respect and a limited degree of personal liberty to be myself) doesn't exist. It's their fantasy. For me to agree to be pulled back in would be my buying back into the fantasy that I can change things. If I believe hard enough and pray hard enough and my heart is pure before God, it will result in the happy ending I'd love to realize. But that is a fantasy, and I cannot live it.

    I've been going round about with my mother, in particular, on this issue for more than two decades and probably closer to three. If it hasn't happened at this point, I don't think it's going to happen now. If a miracle does happen, it will come knocking on my door and will become blatantly obvious, and occurrence I can't ignore, not one I have to chase.

  83. Uniformity vs unity that tolerates diversity is a major factor here. My parents want uniformity. I can't give them that. I'm holding out for unity and won't settle for anything less.

  84. I'm in a situation where I've been the victim of a matriarchal (disguised as patriarchal) family - not mine (thank God) but a family with whom I've been friends with their children since childhood. I've been subjected to all manner of passive aggressive behavior and hostility over a multi-year period. The adult children seem to be (at least on the outside) brainwashed into thinking that if they disobey their parents in any way, they are dishonoring them and thus are sinning. The parents, while not an extreme case of authoritarian, do things like tell their children who they can *not* be friends with (like me), and, last time I checked (this could have changed, since it's been a couple years, but I rather doubt it), have full access to their email and social networking accounts. The parents have identified me as a threat to their designs for their children (I'm thinking at least partly because there have been times where I have encouraged the adult children to form their own opinions), and have such, dragged my name through the mud in front of their children. Thankfully I have built up a solid reputation with our mutual friends, so that is still intact, and, while I don't have explicit confirmation, get the impression that the kids don't buy *everything* their parents say about me.

    It would be easy to write them off and not associate with their entire family (others I know have done it), but I continue to reach out to them and treat them as friends because I know that the kids are brainwashed, and as such, want to stand by and be there for them if/when they come out of it and help them in any way I can - they don't deserve to be treated like they're the source of this behavior, and it's so sad to see them missing out on aspects of life because of something like this. I will say, though, it's only by the grace of God I have been able to continue to treat them with kindness.

    My question is this - is there *anything* I can do, besides praying and continuing to treat them with kindness, that might help/influence the kids in the right direction, even if it is just a very small amount? I'm specifically interested in answers from those who have been in their position - what kinds of things (if any) might have prompted you to go down the path of re-evaluation sooner? Obviously being blunt won't help, nor am I expecting something that will magically change their perspective overnight, but if I can subtly influence them in the right direction, that would be more than enough.

  85. I traveled this road - its a lonely sad and unfair journey. Its so whacked and insidious, I still write about it nearly every day. There is a really good book inside my head. After 20 years, I am almost over the PTSD. But it took me two master's degrees and a lot of researching and reading and worldly living to get over it. I have turned over every rock searching for the devil - and I still haven't found him. The funny thing is, when you chase your fears, they disappear...

    I'd love to settle down with a good Christian man who loves me but the thing is - I still don't trust them. My mother has actually apologized for the things they did, but it doesn't change the fact that my spirituality has quite a few dents in it - and its not very clean and shiny.

  86. I found your blog. I'm not exactly sure how, but I did. In my relationship with Jesus, I finally said to my parents, nearing my graduation from college in 2009: "I don't know where the family begins and the cult ends. So I can't stay here. I don't know where I'm supposed to go, but I can't stay." I moved to GA, entered law school, and will be graduating from there in May. I also have a boyfriend that we are looking into marriage and your blog will, I hope, help us in avoiding having my parents, each in their way, dictate how our lives should go.

  87. A friend asked me to read this. I have been in a tough situation, my family isn't as extreme as those described in this post, but it was tough. There was enough physical abuse when I was young (ever since I can remember until I was 17, 18, ish) to frighten me and I have never really trusted my parents since, emotional abuse constantly, even now. I am the oldest of a large brood of children, and all the cleaning and cooking and laundry and having a hard time finishing my schoolwork (home schooled) to graduate (I graduated a year late) wasn't the hardest part. It could get stressful. But the hardest for me was the lack of praise. The constant belittling and demeaning and criticism. Being told how immature I am and how I will never get such-and-such a privilege back. Having my cell phone taken, computer access taken away, my things gone through and journals read when I was 20 years old. I tried to tell myself that I was making too big a deal of things. But I wasn't trusting my parents any more than I ever had. Even though my mother stopped hitting me, and my Dad tried to be gentler in understanding, I just didn't trust and my mother's belittling never stopped. I wasn't submissive or obedient as I ought to have been. I was sat down and talked to about my behavior, like so many times before, told I had to change. And something in my head clicked, something said "Things haven't changed, things will not change. You are not trusting any more, you are not setting the example for the littles you should be, only causing strife for your mother. It is time to go." I did not speak with my parents about this, I figured if I did I would never actually leave. So I asked someone to come pick me up in the middle of the night, using my brother's cell phone after everyone was asleep. And I left. The aftereffects have been so much tougher than I can express. The words have been harsh, or sorrowful, tearing up my heart at times. I know my parents mean well. They are doing what they believe is right, and I am glad they are doing what they think they need to to honor God. But I think they overstepped some bounds along the way, and that they could be more understanding now. I want to marry a young man that 8 months ago they convinced me not to marry. Looking back, I know 8 months ago that we were not ready. But we still love each other and we are engaged again and even though my parents, family, church, are completely against it, I am making my own decisions and am feeling so much less stress. Even with the stress from constant tough conversations, I have more peace than I can remember having in a long time. My parents have asked my forgiveness for everything they've done, my mother especially. I have forgiven them. They realize that it is better that I live somewhere else. But they are against this young man. He doesn't believe the same as they do and they do not believe he is Christian. He's not the strongest Christian, but we truly love one another and he is learning so much. He is so willing. I love him so much more than words can say and I am thankful we are together and I am so thankful for the gentle way he treats me. I pray this all made sense. God bless!!!!

    1. It did make sense.

      You've done the right thing. Hang in there, and most of all be patient with yourself. Live and breathe and grow.

  88. Leaving is not always financially doable. Where will you go? With who will you stay? How will you eat? I've ended up encouraging some young people in this situation to enlist in the military for this very reason... it's the only sure-fire way (no pun intended) to ensure you are going to have a job and the necessities of life.
    An even worse situation is the one I found myself in. Mom divorced because her husband had an affair, and then she proceeded to carry the Patriarchy banner herself as a Matriarch in absence of a man of the house. She refused to work or support herself ("health issues"), and before I knew what I was getting into, I started taking care of her and became her financial security. Now, I couldn't leave because that meant she would be on the street, but even though I paid the bills, it was God's will that I honor and submit to her leadership in everything. Between the prison of "matriarchy" and concern for my mother's material welfare, I was completely locked in. Joining the military wasn't an option at that point; I would never have made enough money as a raw recruit to support me AND my mom. We had one car which made things worse; of course she wouldn't buy her own and I couldn't afford another.
    It took losing my job and being unemployed for six months, then falling into bankruptcy, before I could leave. I could finally say that there was no more I could do for her, because I had no more to offer. I left for another city where I had a job interview.
    And yes, my mom lied about me behind my back and smeared whoever she had to to keep me under her thumb.
    I wish to god that I knew then what I know now. I would have dumped her @$$ on the street in a heartbeat.