My Life as a Daughter in the Christian Patriarchy Movement -- How I Was Taught to Obey Men, Birth 8 Kids and Do Battle Against Secular America
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By the time I was 12, I could fix meals for the entire family, keep the laundry going, and essentially run the house single-handedly. When I was 15 my parents went out of town for a week, leaving me in charge of the younger siblings. Later when I was in high school, my mother had a hard pregnancy and was completely incapacitated for a month. I ran the house and homeschooled the younger children without a problem. I practically raised some of my younger siblings. This endless list of chores and expectations and responsibilities is seen as the natural order of things, rather than as a problem.
Families in Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull place extreme importance on maintaining their daughters’ sexual and emotional purity. Sex before marriage is held to be sin, and sex before marriage also damages a daughter’s marriage prospects. Girls are told that the best gift they can give their future husbands is their virginity. And we’re not just talking sex here: Most couples in Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull circles don’t kiss before marriage, and some don’t even hold hands or embrace.
This virginity is more than just physical; it is emotional as well. Girls are urged not to “give away pieces of their hearts” by becoming emotionally entangled with boys their age. Every teenage crush becomes suspect and dangerous. Dating is out of the question, as it is considered to be “practice for divorce.” Instead, daughters of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull find husbands through parent-guided courtships, trusting their father’s guidance and obeying his leadership. Marriage is seen as a transfer of authority from the daughter’s father to her husband.
Daughters of Christian Patriarchy are essentially servants in their own homes, but this does not mean they are necessarily miserable and unhappy. While some daughters of Christian Patriarchy rebel and inwardly resent how they are being raised, most don’t. Most accept what their parents teach them as true, and look forward to their wedding day as the beginning of their lives.
This was me. I was perfectly happy to help with my younger siblings and cook for a dozen and do load after load of laundry. At age 10, 12 or 14, I was being trained to be a “helpmeet” to my future husband, preparing for my life’s role by working alongside my mother and serving as junior helpmeet to my father. I dreamed of my wedding constantly, and thought of what a wonderful wife, mother and homemaker I would be. A wife and mother was all I wanted to be, because any dream of anything else was nipped in the bud before it ever took root. I truly believed that this was what God wanted of me, and that serving my family and raising my siblings was serving God. And I gloried in it.
Growing numbers of parents in the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements are keeping their daughters home from college. They argue that college is wasted on daughters who are never supposed to hold jobs or have careers anyway, and that it distracts them from serving others and learning homemaking skills. Furthermore, they contend, college corrupts daughters and fills their heads with ungodly thoughts of equality and careers. This phenomenon is called the Stay-At-Home-Daughter movement.
I, however, was sent to college. Yet this did not initially mean that I dreamed of anything outside of the role I was taught God had laid out for me. Rather, I felt that college would prepare me to be a better wife and mother, and especially, a better homeschool parent. For this reason, in those families in the Christian Patriarchy movement who do send their daughters to college, nursing and teaching, which are seen as naturally feminine and excellent skills for future mothers and homeschool parents, are favored courses of study. And, it is understood that even daughters who attend college remain under the authority of their fathers and must obey them, even after they turn 18. After all, their fathers are their godly authority. God speaks to daughters through their fathers and daughters are bound by God to obey their fathers.