Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Joke Was On Me (Part One)

I'm pretty often asked what it was like for me, an outsider to the P/QF movement, during my relationship with my ex and her family. What were my thoughts?...How did I cope? cetera. I'm gonna try to tell you in this series of posts. This post needs a great big SA here at the beginning, because it's gonna be sarcastic, dry, and will attempt to find humor at the expense of all parties, including me. I have to either laugh at it all or cry at it all, and I've been all cried out for a couple of years now.

Until 3 and a half, almost 4, years ago I'd never heard of "patriarchy". I wasn't homeschooled, and no one in my immediate circle of friends, peers, and associates had a homeschooling background. I'd barely heard Gothard's name in passing over the years (usually not in complimentary fashion) and I knew nothing of him or what he taught. I only knew that he was generally considered somewhat religiously goofy. His name meant nothing to me. I'd never heard of Vision Forum at all, nor of any of it's associated royalty. I wasn't aware of the quiverfull movement. Sure, I knew some people had large families, and I'd seen the commercials advertising the Duggar's show, but their show didn't interest me. I simply saw them as reckless and unfair to their children. I knew nothing of the "why" behind their large family (and it wouldn't have changed my opinion). I'd heard of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" years ago, and thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard of. Still do. I thought even LESS of it when I found out the young age of its author. The handful of instances where someone I knew would mention it and praise it in some fashion were met with this from me: "That's just silly. Are you such a horndog that you can't control yourself and do right by the person you're dating?" I didn't feel anyone who needed such a legalistic set of guidelines for a relationship should even be in a relationship at all. I still don't. I pretty much dismissed it as "Christian" legalistic psycho-babble and tomfoolery, disappointed that the Harris guy was getting rich off of the conscious decisions of so many young Christians to willingly be stupid and let someone else think for them.

To sum up that loooong paragraph, while I knew there were some things that would be "different" about my ex, I really had no idea what I was getting into.

To best sum up my overall experience with her family, I needed a perpetual cartoon bubble (you know, those word bubbles over your head?). That's "perpetual". Stuck there with crazy glue. All the time. It needed to say, "What the...?!"

My ex's family is, hands down, the single most musically talented family I've ever encountered. They're also the single most spiritually, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and morally dysfunctional family I've ever personally encountered. Second place isn't even close. Not. Even. Close.

Back in 2006, I was working for one of the more influential people in a particular genre of Christian music, and someone who knew my ex's family had asked him if he could help them in the music business. He went out of his way to do so (a wasted investment, as ultimately he and his foundation lost thousands upon thousands of dollars due to the flakiness of my ex's family). Later that year, he invited them to attend the largest event in the genre, in Louisville, KY, an event which he is an owner of. I met her and her family that year at this event, found them very naive and different, but engaging, and was blown away by their talent. I saw her as a beautiful, quiet, and interesting young woman, but given the age difference, the fact that she lived on the other side of the continent, and my extremely full and stressful life, I thought nothing of it at the time. She and her sisters had seemed to take an interest in me, and I found it flattering, but I was a busy, busy man at the time with a lot of other responsibilities, especially during that particular event, which is always a hectic week - four sets on the main stage (with all of the logistical issues of gear and sound checks), other showcase events (and the same logistical issues), events and luncheons involving record labels I worked for as a session musician and as a company pastor, duties at my artist's booth and merchandise display (which I was in charge of that year), and constant interactions with fans seeking autographs or photos. Not a lot of free social time.

At this same event in 2007 I had far fewer responsibilities and much more free time. I was at my artist's booth when my ex came walking up to me, and Yowza! She looked gorgeous. Over the next couple of days we spent a great deal of time talking, and she was definitely under my skin. She was the kind of woman I could see myself marrying. Physically, just a gorgeous creation of a woman, and spiritually, she professed a deep commitment to her faith. Emotionally, I could see that there was some baggage, even though I wasn't sure of its origins, and I could see that she was behind in some areas, being extremely naive and green about many of the topics I might bring up in the conversation. I found her innocence beautiful. Also, it became very clear to me that she didn't care who I was, who I knew, what I did for a living, or how many (ignorant) people would want my autograph. I can't put into words how attracted to her that made me, as that was something I'd always wanted. Most of the women I've met through the music business have the depth of a day-old mud puddle.

It was somewhere in the course of our second deep conversation that some things began to ping my weird meter. She mentioned something concerning one of her sisters, and said her sister was "wrong" because she was being "rebellious" toward their parents. Ping! I asked her "How old is your sister?" Her sister was 25. I didn't press the issue, as I didn't want to close the door on any more weirdness that might seep out. I needed to know these things. Other words like "honor","submissive", and "godly" were also used in a very liberal, and I felt irresponsible, manner. I didn't hold it against her. I just wanted to see how the sausage was made in her mind concerning the critical mass of her beliefs.

Despite the bits of weirdness, there was a connection between the two of us, and it was well on the way to becoming a matter of the heart for us both. Within a couple of days, I decided to sit her down and discuss my interest in her. Her face lit up, and she also expressed her interest in me (she'd been interested in me since the initial meeting a year earlier), but at the same time I could tell she was extremely nervous, and I wanted to put her at ease. She asked me if I would talk to her father about this. I agreed, not really knowing what I was supposed to talk to him about ("Hey man, how about that game last night? Some game, huh? Yeah, well, err, nice talkin' to ya."), but, like I said, I just wanted to put her at ease.

[ETA: When I decided to talk to her about my interest in her, and set out to find her to have the conversation, I found her as she was coming to find me. She was extremely nervous, and before I could even utter some form of "hello", she told me, "I need to talk to you." Curious, I said, "Is now ok?" She nodded her head "yes". We took a walk to find a semi-private spot to sit down, and the whole time I could literally feel her tension and nervousness. Once we sat down, she timidly explained to me that her father felt she should apologize to me for having been "forward". She hadn't been forward at all. We'd merely spent a few hours talking in the preceeding couple of days, and hadn't even ventured into anything suggestive or romantic. We'd only talked. Yes, maybe she had instigated those conversations, but so what? "What the...?!" I told her how surprised I was by an apology that I didn't need or expect, and I began to feel that expressing my interest in her would almost do her a favor at that point, and relieve whatever ridiculous pressure of "wrongdoing" was being applied to her. It did help. It changed her from almost an embarrassed, humiliated, submissive person to an excitedly confused and nervously happy person. I could see the transformation in her face and eyes.]

Outside of the P/QF world of legalism and authoritarianism, it isn't normal for a grown man to approach the father of a grown woman and ask permission to get to know them better, or even, dare I say it, DATE! *gasp* I wasn't 17 year-old Jim-Bob asking 16 year-old Sissy Sue to the prom. Sure, we approach the father to seek a blessing prior to a marriage proposal, but even that's just ceremonial and tradition at its core. I mean, it's not like if he'd have said "no" that I wouldn't have still proposed if the two of us wanted to get married. Did he really think that if he'd have said "no" that I wouldn't have pursued a relationship with her? That's just dumb. But he's a pretty dumb dude.

The conversation with her father was pretty strange for me. It really, really perturbed me. And, dry sarcastic imp that I can be, I came really close to saying some interesting stuff. I wish I HAD said some of it. I began by expressing my interest in her and my desire to get to know her better. He wanted to know how I planned to do that. I WANTED to say, "Well, I thought I might get her liquored up real good, and later tonight, get us a suite down at the Galt House to see how we, umm, click, if ya know what I mean (as I elbow his ribs and *wink*)" Sheesh. I told him I hoped to get to know her better by spending as much time with her as possible over the next few days. He replied, "As long as it's in public places", as if an event where I was a recognizable face, with 20-25 thousand people on the grounds at any given time, offered private places. As I began to walk away, he stopped me, and he said, "I've heard you've been married before. Is that right?" The answer was "No", but what I WANTED to say was, "Dude, who have you been talking to about me?...because their version of me sounds a lot more interesting than mine."

[ETA: After this conversation with her dad, we had a set coming up on the main stage, and I had hoped to find her and see if she'd like to accompany me down to the stage and sit in the stage ring below the piano as we performed our set. No one in her family knew where she was. According to her sisters, she returned from our talk only able to say "He uh...He said, ummm...He uh" before disappearing. I looked high and low, and eventually had to give up my search for her and head down to the stage. It turns out, she had gone into the upper level of the building, found a fairly private spot with a sofa in a side room, and laid down and cried out of happiness for two hours.]

Over the next day or so, I began to notice him talking to various friends and peers of mine. He'd been going around and asking all about me, and creeping a lot of people out in the process. Most of them came to me over the next couple of days asking me, "What was that all about? That guy is kinda strange." Turns out he'd been telling them that I "had approached him to inquire about possible marriage with his daughter." Where's my "What the...?!" bubble when I need it?

She and I began to grow closer, spending as much time as possible together during the remainder of the event (several hours a night), and spending two to three hours daily on the phone in the weeks that followed. During this period, she informed me of her family's former involvement in an acknowledged cult, a cult that had been started by her great-grandfather years before. Her family had been ex-communicated when she was a toddler. It's pretty obvious that I already had deep feelings for her, being that the word "cult" entering the relationship vernacular in its formative weeks didn't send me running. Things were moving along fine, until...

During one conversation, I sensed some unease in her, and she told me her dad wanted to speak with me. He proceeded to tell me that "She's getting emotionally attached to you, and is missing you." I'm thinking, "Umm...Isn't that the point of all this?" He went on to tell me that he didn't like what he was seeing, and I was now no longer allowed to call her everyday. What an emotionally stunted, dictatorial moron. I asked, "Umm, shouldn't that be up to her, being she's a grown woman?" He responded with, "I'm her father and I don't like what I'm seeing, and I think this will be best for all concerned."

What I wanted to say was, "What I think would be best would be for you to have a hot cup of "Shut up" to go with a "Mind your own business" bagel and put your daughter back on the phone." This was my first real glimpse at just how dysfunctional of a dynamic I was dealing with, and just how spiritually and emotionally troubled her home life truly was. She felt things would go smoother for her if we went along with his "request", so we started an every-other-day telephone routine. I agreed for HER sake. Not his. I'd quickly lost interest in him.

Over the next few weeks, as things progressed, we openly acknowledged to each other that we saw ourselves as a future married couple. It's the natural process as two people begin to fall in love, so I was in no way threatened by thoughts or discussion of the subject, and I was honest about how I felt. She, however, did the majority of talking about marriage. Daddy dearest didn't like this. On one particular Monday, as I arrived home from the prior week of touring, an email awaited me. Her father essentially attempted to co-opt control of our relationship via this email, accused me of using the "tactics of persuasion" on his daughter, letting me know that he was unhappy with "the pace", that he considered certain topics off-limits for discussion (like I said, she was bringing up most of those topics, and she was a grown woman), and proceeded to tell me that "you are old enough to be her father". Sure I am. Of course I am. That is, if I were getting jiggy with it and impregnating the masses at 13 or 14 years of age. I'm not a violent person, but if he'd have been in the room with me when I read that email, I'd have shaved a couple of inches off of each one of his buttocks and beat him into next week with the shavings. I let members of my family read it, and my dad, who is as gentle of a soul as walks this earth, had steam coming out of his ears. I printed it out and carried it on the tour bus later that week to let a couple of my bandmates read it. One said, "That deserves a whuppin'! What an ass!" And it's true. The man is an ass. A restaurant-quality ass (most "patriarchs"'s the natural by-product of a messed-up authoritarian religious system). It was pretty clear that it wasn't just me "misreading" something.

This was the point where things went from "strange and different" to downright sickening (at times) and destructive. The point where people began to be senselessly and needlessly hurt, and hurt deeply, sacrificed on the altar of an evil, EVIL patriarchal doctrine to appease the tender sensibilities of a world-class narcissistic and sociopathic patriarse.

Part Two coming soon...For now I need to put a new coat of polish on my "What the...?!" bubble.


  1. Hey. I'm a new reader. 43 year old mom of 6 kids, out of the movement just a handful of years ago. We know these people, we were headed to being these people. Our kids would have married these people. We were gothardites, went to a gothard church, and I am pretty sure we know plenty of the same people you do, personally :) THANKS for what you're writing. We're all fine, no scars, kids were young enough when we got out, all that. But THANKS for sharing your experience (and unfortunate expertise). You're the real deal, Mister.

    1. My parents never bought into that courtship nonsense with me (not that it would have mattered, as I wasn't very attractive as a teen LOL), but my school made us attend a Gothard seminar, and I'll never forget how their workbook used David and Bathsheba as a Biblical example of why dating is wrong. Even at 13, I was smart enough to figure out that the problem was the murder and adultery, not the dating. Sheesh.

  2. Thank God you escaped, Jill! I was looking at an old home school year book the other day, pointing to pictures of people and saying, "yep, that one's in a cult, and that one, and that...". How I did not see it at the time astounds me! I thought because we all used the same vocabulary, we all meant the same things. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Anyway, glad your kids got out while the getting was good. Mine too, but they definitely have an anti-religious bias now.

  3. Thanks for posting this! I've been wondering what initially attracted you to her, but didn't think it was my business to ask :)

    Also, I think it's awesome that you admit that you were at least partly attracted by her looks. I think it's both hilarious and sad when young patriarchs-in-training are engaged to stunningly beautiful women, and they say things like "her heart for God attracted me" and "her values and beliefs were in line with mine." I mean, really?

    Not that looks are everything, of course, and shared values are important, blah blah blah. And if all a man can talk about is how "hot" his wife/girlfriend is, that's annoying too. But when these guys seem to completely ignore the physical attraction piece, something just rings false for me. People *should* be attracted to their spouses/future spouses, so to pretend that the whole thing is a completely rational decision based on nothing more than an intellectual decision? That's not honest.

    Anyway, I always enjoy your writing, so thanks!

  4. Yikes Lewis. He was certainly a 'button pusher' on purpose. WOW!

  5. ROTFLOL! Yeah, its sad, but you need to laugh at it. I know it hurts but the humor helps. I grew up with that schtuff. Never saw through the crap until I finally became a man at 19.

  6. Jill...Glad you guys got out, and thanks for stopping by. Dive in the discussion anytime.

    Hannah...And then some. It gets even worse.

    Anonymous...I too chuckle at the "her heart for God attracted me" stuff. Naive. In the case of my ex, you could safely drop the "for God" out of it, and it was part of my attraction. When it wasn't being manipulated by her family and the guilt and legalism they weighed her down with, she had just about the softest and prettiest heart I'd seen. Under their sway, however, she's cold-hearted and just as irresponsible as they are.

  7. IC...Yeah, laughter is about all that's kept me sane through all of it.

  8. Oh my word, Lewis. You just described my father during his "patriarch-ass phase" and how he acted during the relationship that David and I were building back in 1996. Right down to reading letters ( we didn't have email at the time) to commandeering phone calls. Yikes!

  9. Lewis- I find it so very interesting that her family had at one time been involved in a cult & then were excommunicated. Then- what? They supposedly get converted & start behaving cult-like.

    I think I've mimicked a similar belief system in the past.IMO, you can take a person out of a cult- but can you take the cult out of the person? It takes a lot of time, prayer , energy & I guess the school of hard knocks to "convert" your thinking also.

    I know you would have committed yourself to her & the time it would have taken to "renew her mind," but it would have been a long and difficult road. Blessings.

  10. supernalquest...I've often described it as "her family left a cult, and then turned into one". Coming from the authoritarian background that her family did, I think that once her parents began to immerse themselves in the Christian homeschooling culture, the more wacky, hyper-fundamentalist aspects of it were a natural, and comfortable, fit.

    I guess sometimes the dysfunctional but comfortable known is more appealing than the healthy unknown, particularly when the wounds are deep.

  11. Eight years ago, I became a widow at the young age of 45 when my husband died of pancreatic cancer. I was looking to join a Protestant church and a friend recommended a church that met in the home of one of the members. I had never heard of patriarchy or quiverful and I did not know that the host family has very strong Vision Forum connections.

    Like Lewis I was very confused and felt like I needed a perpetual "What the ...? cartoon bubble above my head. Because I had just converted to Protestantism from being a life-long Catholic, I was unfamilar with Protestant culture and I did not really how strange they really were. I assumed they were a conventional Protestant church that just happened to meet in someone's home.

    The men were fascinated me like I was some kind of Jazebel and would talk to me more than the women, who seemed to shun me. At the same time, the men regarded me as unacceptable because I was an independent widow who earned her own living. The leader said that the men had been discussing me and that it would take them time to "figure out what to do with me". I was incredulous when another man suggested they pick a husband for me.

    After only 3 months I left but a lot of damage was done because I assumed that all Protestants were like them. It took me a long time and a lot of research to gain perspective. I still do not trust Christians and I am unable to discuss my faith or pray with other Christians. I can however witness to non-Christians fairly easily because non-Christians are generally more polite.

  12. I will post this as anonymous to protect the identity of my daughters. My oldest daughter subjected herself to her father's courtship process and muddled through it. Fortunately her fiance' was mature enough and persistent enough to rise above it because he really loved my daughter. Also, he knew my daughter was not really 100% on board with the whole courtship regimen. It put them both through hell for about a year. They finally got "approved" and got married.
    In contrast, my other daughter saw all this and when she wanted to get married, she flew to Las Vegas with the guy and just did it. As some said to me later, "Can you really blame her?"
    The same church leaders who wanted to "discipline" this rebellious girl now were actually glad she was no longer under her father's (tyrannical) authority.
    As a family, we are about half in and half out of this dysfunctional way of life. I think someday we will be completely free and walk with Jesus and obey Him only rather than follow the commandments of men.

  13. Lewis, thank you so much for sharing your heart!
    I hope you don't mind-I shared some of your quotes on "TCND"....

  14. I've been hoping for a while to hear the whole story of how it began! It's not easy for an outsider to meet a woman who's been in this her whole life. Ha, would that certain musical genre be the only approved non-classical one? There are so many P/QF families who do it that it would be impossible to pick them out.

  15. I love reading your stuff Lewis.It cracks me up! I met a beautiful young lady years ago that was only allowed to court by her Dad. I remember when I was told that I couldn't see her again (this after being apart for 7 months already)unless I commited to marry her because he was responsible for her heart and didnt want her to get attached. My what the **** bubble went off just then. I thought the same as you "isn't that the point"? Good stuff.

  16. Oh man. This just brings up so many memories. My dad didn't become patriarchal until I was in high school. In order to go to a school banquet (a sit down dinner banquet, mind you) the interested male had to call my dad and get permission. Oddly enough, two were willing to! At the time I just thought it was funny. I didn't care about relationships or boyfriends then (I'd kissed dating goodbye, you all seriousness though, for the better, I'm glad I didn't date in high school). But then in college, when I really was ready for one, it got weird.

    First off I was told that "I did it wrong by trying to lead the relationship" because I first told the guy, my best friend at the time, that I was interested and it either needed to go somewhere or end. I was forced to apologize (to my not yet boyfriend) for it. He was the son of a baptist pastor - never, drank, smoked, rebelled. A leader in his church, good grades, worked from 16 on through college to pay his way. My dad called multiple people in his church. There was a three week gap for "approval" of the guy I'd known for over a year. Ugh. So. Much. Drama over the next couple of years.

    I knew I wanted to marry him, that's why I wanted to date him (we were close enough at that point). About 2 years into the relationship, he was coming to our house for spring break. He'd written a letter ahead of time for things which he wanted to discuss with my dad - things that were bothering him and last of all, marriage. The night before he arrived my dad sat me down to talk. He asked me "What would you say if I asked you to end the relationship?" I said "I would probably ask 'Why?'" (Seemed like a reasonable response.) He said "See, that's the attitude I'm talking about right there." He wanted blind trust in this man whom I'd hardly ever trusted my entire life. The man who shook me as a child yelling in my face. The man I saw push my mother. The man who verbally disowned me when I was 13. The man who would curse about me under his breath when he was angry. Shortly after my boyfriend arrived (he'd taken a 24 hr bus trip to get there) my Dad wanted to do a Bible study with him. He explained about the patriarchal fatherhood whatever crap and my boyfriend told him that he disagreed. My dad immediately flew him home (about three hours later). But before he left, my dad made him break up with me. He was crying. In front of my dad. He'd been there about 12 hours. Later, my dad tells me about the letter, that he was going to ask for my hand (I didn't know that) and then says we'd never been given permission to talk about marriage. That it was no where in the future. What the...? is "courtship" about then if not the fraking goal of marriage?!!! I ran away from home for the first time in my entire life (the only one of his kids to have NOT run away up until that point). I stayed with my sister who'd happened to in town at a business conference.

    The end? We got married a year later. My family wasn't there. And we are SO happy - not that they weren't there, but because we are together. A year after that my little sister got married, she did everything "right". Later she told me "I understand why you did what you did. And if I had been in your shoes, I probably would have done the same thing." On the upside, things with my parents are much better. I think not having any more kids in the house is better for them. Though now I get the feeling they feel like they could raise my (new) child better than I can, but what parent doesn't think that? :) I'm just glad to be on the other side of all that crap. And my daughters will NEVER go through this. Never. And I'm so thankful that God restores.

  17. Musical talent--well, that rules out the Maxwells, Duggars, I'm curious who she is!

  18. Hopewell...They weren't popular people within the patriarchal movement. Just pawns.

  19. Oh, Lewis. I love the way you mix humor with tragedy. The perpetual "what the ...?!"bubble- so true!

    About a year ago, I spent some months getting deeper into their stuff on the Internet. (Thank God - and I mean that literally, this not taking His name in vain) there are no such actual people anywhere close to me. For a while it seemed very religious, but in the long run a perpetual "what the ...?!" describes it well.

    Like in "All women should be married."
    And I think: What the ...?! Paul say it's better not to marry, the single can think of God, the married also think of the husband.
    And it gets weirder: "The reason you are not married is because you are too strong and independent"
    What the ...?! What else should a single, 30-year-plus Christian woman be than strong in the Lord and independent of parents? And sites like e-Harmony say that being too weak and needy drives away the opposite sex?
    And weirder: "You are still single???? How shocking. Advertise for a man that will give you a taken in hand relationship."
    I was unfamiliar with the term "taken in hand" at the time, but that very religious patriarchal women, told me I, who have managed to lead a respectable life without any man managing me, should look for a man who will hit me when I disobey his rules... Capital letters WHAT THE ...?!

    I can only imagine what it must have been like for you. Or for her, who is so used to all this that she never thought "what the ....?!"

    Oh, and please give that patriarse the beating he deserve some day.

  20. Hey Lewis! I was wondering how you met these people in the first place. Thanks for being so open and humorous about something that has scarred you for life.

    I've lived in NC all my life. I grew up listening to Billy Grahm. Had never heard of Doug Philips, Voddie Baucom, and Gothard until a few years ago.

    The Duggars "family size" was not all that odd to me because I have aunts who had more than 15 kids...and it wasn't because they wanted to. I just don't approve of how the Duggars tend to "censor" everything from their children. I honestly had never heard of "defrauding" until I started watching them.

    Keep writing Lewis! People need to know how complex and dangerous this type of upbringing really is. How is your ex doing now? Did she at least call or write to say she was sorry..?

  21. How is your ex doing now? Did she at least call or write to say she was sorry..?

    She's now married to a man who was interested in her before I ever came along. Her response to his interest was - "No. No way. Never. I'm not attracted to him at all. The thought of a future with him just made me sick." So, in short, she followed a formula and settled on a "spiritual head" she doesn't love. I pity her.

    She hasn't apologized to me. Rather, she's communicated to me how happy she is that "God intervened" and ended us. She's also represented me falsely to a lot of people, accepting her father's distorted interpretations of who I am and promoting them. While I still love her and always will, my respect for her as a woman is at less than zero. She and her entire family have gone about all of this as if I were expendable. She's a totally different woman now than she was when she was with me, and the woman she is now is just an empty shell of who she was and was becoming. Again, I pity her.

    Thanks for your support and encouragement. It means a lot.

  22. Well, I bet her dad is happier than a pig in mud. I remember you saying she married another guy. You just didn't mention if she was "happy". HE was NOT her 1st choice. Never forget that. I bet that's bugging the hell out of her hubby.

  23. I've had no contact at all with her for two and a half years, so I can't speak to her happiness directly...but I know that even if she were miserable, she'd outwardly swear to her happiness. She has to, or she's being "rebellious" again. She believes her sole purpose on this planet is to serve her "spiritual head" and spit out babies, and she'll do so dutifully. It makes me very sad for her.

    1. That is so common in patriarchal dysfunctional families. The only emotions are happy and happier. It is like some odd chemical in the water of "Happy Valley". Creepy. Everything works out as "God's Will". Glad you got out of this dysfunction.

  24. For the all the attempts at humor, which I do so appreciate your trying to muddle through this the best you can, Lewis, I am so incredibly sad by the thought of this woman, this young lady being so brainwashed and led off into oblivion by her own family to believe the heaps of crap that was taught to her. This is such widespread nonsense. I have a friend who is in one of these type of families. She is 28 and lives at home and I must say, she just now has a guy coming around to "court" her and she calls me for help with her crazy family led, not by the supposed patriarchal domineering idiot father, but by the controlling, smothering mother who won't let her leave the house with this guy without taking three of her sisters with her! I am a lifeline to her in this stupid mess. What a sobering responsibility to have kids...babies become weapons in the hands of men and women everywhere, sowing seeds of dysfunction and a cult of personality spread abroad if we don't tune into the REAL Jesus instead of this glitzy, fake, costume jewelry junk cult crap. Lewis, I truly feel your pain all the way over here. Every ounce.

  25. QuestionEverything--Isn't it also scary though that a 28 year old would allow this? I know she has no education that she can document, is scared to death of anything outside the bubble, etc, but, but, but [gasping for words] I feel for her so badly--no way to decide "screw this I'm living my own life." Just sad. It takes all of us to get the word out about the "other" side of gi-normous, color-coordinated, Daddy-is-a-Saint Quiverfull/Patriarchal families.....

  26. I'm new to your blog. How old was this girl at the time?

    I have a lot of conflicting thoughts. A lot to think about.

  27. Anonymous...She was 23 when we became engaged.

  28. And, btw folks...I've added a couple of edits to this piece to fill in a couple of the holes and add some details.

  29. Sad when misuse of authority causes many much distress. I have encountered Gothardites in the past, and seen the legalism control and remove the freedom Christ has given us. However I am somewhat troubled at the lack of respect that was expressed towards the father of your x. I beleve that even if he is out of order, and wrong, you should not be disrespectful. God has told us to honor our parents. Those being her parents need to be shown honor also. Disagree all you want, however do it respectfully.

  30. Anonymous...I wasn't disrespectful, and he wasn't my father. Any respect from me had to be earned. I respected the fact that he was her father (although I respect NO concept of him having any authority over her as a grown woman), I respect the fact that he's part of God's creation...frankly, any more respect than that would've been totally phony, unearned, and would've been unwise. I wasn't interested in feeding the monster. Give him an inch and he'd take every mile on the map.

  31. Anonymous...Just to give you an example of the dynamic - there's being respectful toward those you disagree with, and there's being respectful toward sociopathic behavior. I think we can ALL agree that the first is in order, but the second is more than a little unwise.

    To understand the dynamic a bit better, I'd suggest this post to you...

  32. Thank you for writing about this. I am a new reader. So much of what you have written here resonates with me, because I came from a very similar place as your ex. I can't believe how much I feel like crying right now, even though I have been married for nearly a decade and out of this mindset for so many years...I think it damaged me more deeply than I knew, even more than I know now.

    I went through a horrible "courtship" experience--which ended in marriage, and it's a good marriage, but I still feel that because of that experience and the overall environment in which I was brought up, I was damaged, emotionally and spiritually, stunted and held back and kept trapped in immaturity, naivete, and insecurity. I haven't recovered yet. With God's help I hope to someday overcome.

  33. Anonymous, as one who is still working on dealing with the garbage from major spiritual and emotional abuse, I can tell you that it IS worth it to persevere in seeking healing! Yes, we sometimes have to revisit painful things. But as we work through them and learn the truth about God's LOVE, we heal. Don't give up! :)

  34. "That's just silly. Are you such a horndog that you can't control yourself and do right by the person you're dating?"

    Gah, love it.


  35. I was on the Quivering Daughters website, happened to click on a link to your story, and incredibly sad!(and it's only Part 1!) And yet it is not totally surprising to me in some respects, because the whole "date daddy to date daughter" system has led to countless nightmare stories similar to yours. As grateful as I am for my homeschooled upbringing, many in the homeschooling movement have seriously gone off the deep end into extremism. Thankfully my family never went patriarchal ;), but all the teachings on emotional purity and not talking to boys really messed me up. We went to a Gothardite church for a while where it was considered sinful to make eye contact with a guy! (no joke!) Thankfully my parents saw the error in following a man rather than God and got us out of there, but to this day it is still painfully hard at times to converse with single men, because of that terrible fear of "defrauding" or "flirting" (as if it were the chief of sins, heh) which was so ingrained in me....not by my parents, really, but from all the "respected authorities" on the "Biblical" way to find a spouse. There are so many of us who grew up in the homeschool movement, longing to do things "God's way", but seriously led astray. I am so thankful God delivered me from that mindset. The fact is, He uses MANY different means of bringing people together. There is a reason He didn't give any specific instructions for finding a mate, other than maintaining moral purity, in the Bible. (contrary to all the rules Gothard declares to be "Biblical"!!) The truth really does set us free....thank God.
    Yet God never wastes pain. Your pain has been severe, I know. But as I have found in my own painful circumstances, you will come out of this better, and stronger, and able to relate to the sufferings of others like you never would have otherwise. Take heart, brother! :) And keep telling it like it is!!

  36. If you were interested in the girl, you should have learned the rules to the game. I got married overseas, and I had to deal with parents in a different culture. I am not part of the patriarchy movement, but sympathize with some of the ideas based on reading the Bible. When I got married, I really wanted her father's approval, since that is who okay'ed marriages in the OT. I was fortunate that my parents didnto have a patriarchal view of me getting married and seemed to trust me to make a good choice. I don't think they are disappointed, either. The Lord has blessed me with a good wife.

    Some of your comments here just seem kind of immature--the things you were thinking when dealing with the girl's father. I'll try to look ahead on yoru blog to see if you married her. Some people use 'ex' to refer to who they dated.

  37. "If you were interested in the girl, you should have learned the rules to the game."

    It wasn't a game. I certainly wasn't playing a game. You lose credibility with that line of thinking. Also, she was a woman, not a girl, which is the basis of the moral objection.

    "I got married overseas, and I had to deal with parents in a different culture."

    None of which is my business, nor is it relevant to my story. Your choices. Your story.

    "When I got married, I really wanted her father's approval, since that is who okay'ed marriages in the OT."

    ...which has absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with TODAY. Especially when you consider that marriages were a bit of a joke in the OT - polygamy, et cetera. Outside of me, her, and God, I didn't (and still don't) give a fart who approved. It would've been nice if everyone had thought it swell, but it wasn't necessary...and ultimately leads to meddling, something the NT actually talks and instructs about.

    "Some of your comments here just seem kind of immature--the things you were thinking when dealing with the girl's father."

    Lighten up a bit. Do yourself a favor - look up Zach Galifianakis on youtube and laugh a little. Being a person of faith shouldn't mean forsaking a sense of humor. If it does, you don't have faith, you have a religious addiction and you should deal with it.

  38. The OT has nothing to do with today? Great! I've been wanting to commit bestiality. What are you, a dispensationalist?