Since beginning this blog, several critics of what I write here have suggested that my (and other P/QF critics') real problem is that I'm "convicted by the lifestyle". Oh my. I could get some really good sarcastic mileage out of that notion, but I'd rather examine it, because I believe it helps demonstrate just how important it is that people speak out strongly against the P/QF movement.
I've made no bones about my belief that the P/QF, Christian homeschooling movement is a cult - and a dangerous one - which breaks down into family-size cult units. Cults aren't defined by doctrine or by size. Cults are defined by behavior and practice. Madeleine Tobias and Janja Lalich describe "family cults" this way: "...where the head of the family uses deceptive and excessive persuasion and control techniques"
My ex's family embodied that definition - and then some. By typical P/QF standards, they would probably appear comparatively liberal. She and her sisters had taken some college courses via an online program, they'd worked at jobs outside the home, wore pants, et cetera. What sent them over the edge into the cultic sphere was the sociopathic iron grip of authority and control their father exercised over them, and the learned helplessness/bounded choice response to it by the rest of the family - all done under the guise of religion - replete with scores of dysfunctional behaviors, ideas, and beliefs related to it, and bathed generously in the language of an authoritarian religious cult (all the key buzzwords - honor, submit, rebellion, godly, spiritual head/headship, et cetera).
Everything about them was about the external. They wore the outward cloak of Christianity, and could fool most people rather easily into believing that they were all thriving Christians growing in their faith. The problem was (and is) that superficiality doesn't equip one to handle the critical mass of life, or the critical situations within that critical mass. So much time had been spent "staying sweet", applying and maintaining the outward make-up of Christianity, living and nurturing this way of life, that the way of life itself replaced God in the dynamic. When critical situations arose, superficiality was replaced by sociopathy, and they (even my ex) became dishonest and deceitful, extremely selfish, relied on misdirection, cut every corner possible, built every possible detour around healthy resolution, became consumed with paranoia, and this is aside from their abysmal dealings with each other, which included some of the most cruel and vile emotional leveraging and invasion of personal boundaries you can imagine.
In their rush to perfect the "lifestyle" (which, as I've said, was entirely external), they'd failed to learn some vital traits of human decency - honesty, integrity, personal character, genuine selflessness, genuine expression of love - core deficiencies which became clear when the "lifestyle" (which had long since replaced God in their true paradigm) came under fire or was challenged in any way, with the traits described in the previous paragraph filling the void where honesty, integrity, et al, should have manifest.
P/QF is reliant on a twisted and deceptive use of biblical passages and proof-texting to establish its control, then, reliant on emotionally and psychologically unhealthy practices and conditions like thought reform, coercive persuasion, loaded language, learned helplessness, bounded choice, and more, to maintain its control. It's a cult.
When you tell me I'm just "convicted by the lifestyle", you've told me that, like my ex's family, the lifestyle itself has become an idol for you, your "god", and you've rendered God a mere spectator. You're just borrowing his name to slap on the lifestyle and get your religious fix and high. If YOU were "convicted by a lifestyle", and adhere to P/QF concepts for that reason...there's no question that you're a religious addict, you're in a cultic movement, and your family most likely IS a cult. I'd encourage you to read about the Symptoms of Religious Addiction, and pay special attention to this...
The ultimate temptation of the believer is to assume that his or her way to God is the best or only way for others. The particular Way to God becomes what is adored, not the ineffable and incomprehensible Mystery to which we give the name of God.
In essence we have become addicted to the certainty, sureness or sense of security that our faith provides. It is no longer a living by faith, with hope and growing in unconditional love.
I'm not "convicted" by your lifestyle. I'm offended by it. Bruised and heart-broken over it. I've seen what's behind the mask.
To borrow a quote my friend Elizabeth Cook made elsewhere...
"Seems to me that if the first thing people see when they look at us is our "standards," then we have missed the whole point. Don't we want them to see Jesus? Didn't Jesus say that people would know we are His disciples by our love for one another?"
Your energy spent worrying whether or not I'm "convicted" by a lifestyle would be better spent making sure you aren't worshiping one.