Creepy Christian Patriarchy Movement Shackles Daughters to Their Fathers and Homes
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“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’”
There’s a lot of talk in American mainstream media lately about the diminishing role of men -- fathers, in particular. Have feminism and reproductive technology made them obsolete? Are breadwinning wives and career-oriented mothers emasculating them?
No such uncertainty exists in the mind of Doug Phillips, the man quoted above. The San Antonio minister is the founder of Vision Forum, a beachhead for what’s known as the Christian Patriarchy Movement, a branch of evangelical Christianity that takes beliefs about men as leaders and women as homemakers to anachronistic extremes. Vision Forum Ministries is, according to its Statements of Doctrine, “committed to affirming the historic faith of Biblical Christianity,” with special attention to the historical faith found in the book of Genesis, when God created Eve as a “helper” to Adam. According to Christian Patriarchy, marriage bonds man (the symbol of Christ) to woman (the symbol of the Church). It’s a model that situates husbands and fathers in a position of absolute power: If a woman disobeys her “master,” whether father or husband, she’s defying God. Thus, women in the Christian Patriarchy Movement aren’t just stay-at-home mothers -- they’re stay-at-home daughters as well. And many of them wouldn’t have it any other way.
The stay-at-home-daughters movement, which is promoted by Vision Forum, encourages young girls and single women to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry. Young women pursuing their own ambitions and goals are viewed as selfish and antifamily; marriage is not a choice or one piece of a larger life plan, but the ultimate goal. Stay-at-home daughters spend their days learning “advanced homemaking” skills, such as cooking and sewing, and other skills that at one time were a necessity -- knitting, crocheting, soap- and candle-making. A father is considered his daughter’s authority until he transfers control to her husband.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the CPM shares much of its philosophy with the Quiverfull movement [See “Multiply and Conquer,” Bitch no. 37], which holds that good Christians must eschew birth control -- even natural family planning -- in order to implement biblical principles and, in the process, outbreed unbelievers. Although the CPM has been around for the past several decades, with its roots in the founding of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the teachings of religious leaders like Bill Gothard and Rousas J. Rushdoony, the stay-at-home-daughters movement seems to have gained traction in the last decade. Kathryn Joyce, author of the 2009 book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movemen t, estimates the CPM population to be in the low tens of thousands, but the rise of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity over the past several decades makes it difficult to predict how large the CPM following could eventually become.
Vision Forum, for its part, is fully dedicated to turning back the clock on gender equality. Its website offers a cornucopia of sex-segregated books and products designed to conform children to rigid gender stereotypes starting from an early age. The All-American Boy’s Adventure Catalog shills an extensive selection of toy weapons (bow-and-arrow sets, guns, swords, and tomahawks), survival gear, and books and DVDs on war, the outdoors, and science. The Beautiful Girlhood Collection features dolls, cooking and sewing play sets, and costumes. There’s no room for doubt about the intended roles these girls will play later on in life. Indeed, the Vision Forum catalog brims with yearning for a simpler, supposedly more secure, and presumably more pious time, with a number of items relating to Western frontier living, a “Grandfather’s Classic Toys” collection, manuals on medieval chivalry, and centuries-old titles about manners and modesty.