A Young Woman’s Relationship with Her Boyfriend is Shattered by Christian Patriarchy

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Personal story of a relationship broken by legalistic pressures brought on by teachings from Doug Phillips, Vision Forum and Christian Patriarchy ideology within the Homeschool Movement.

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A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from “Bethany” who shared her personal story with me and just recently she decided to share her story publicly.   Bethany comes from a diverse educational background.  She homeschooled with a group at church in kindergarten, then attended private school, and completed her high school online.  While in college last fall, she met a young man and developed an interest in him.  That is the story that Bethany is willing to share with us.  

What is unique about this story is that most of the time we hear from young ladies connected within the Christian Patriarchy Movement.  Bethany was not part of that system, but later found out her boyfriend was.   It wasn’t until the recent Doug Phillips scandal that pieces started coming together for Bethany so this is still very fresh for her.   With the help of her parents, Bethany was able to see the trap in Christian Patriarchy and the emotional and spiritual tug-of-war her boyfriend was facing as he attempted to make choices independent of his parents and have a relationship with Bethany.  

I am very grateful to Bethany for giving us a unique glimpse into this destructive culture of Patriarchy within the Homeschool Movement.  ~JA

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A Young Woman’s Relationship with Her Boyfriend is Shattered by Christian Patriarchy

by “Bethany”

I started college last fall and met a guy at one of the campus ministries. We hit it off very fast, and it was not long before I became interested in him. He was pretty much the perfect package in my book: handsome, intelligent, kind, good-hearted, and ultimately and most importantly, a devout Christian. He was simply one of those individuals that exhibited the light of Christ, and everyone noticed this. This was the first time in my life that I had truly been interested in pursuing a relationship, so I took things very slowly. I spent the entire first semester just getting to know him through the ministry. I noticed that even though he seemed to be pretty quiet, he always made the effort to talk to me.

Before we knew it, we were talking to each other all the time. Any chance we could, really. If we ever saw each other, an effort was always made to speak. One of the many conversations we had was about Calculus. I was currently in the class and struggling, while he was in Calculus III and a complete math genius. Over Facebook one day, I asked if he would mind tutoring me, and he let me know he didn’t mind at all. I noticed that we really connected with each other during our tutoring sessions. While it was hard to tell whether or not he was interested in me because he was nice to everyone, I still felt something special there. There was a connection, and I couldn’t deny it. He made me feel so much better about Calculus, and he genuinely was the one who helped me understand.

Since he helped me greatly with my confidence in the class (I firmly believe he’s the reason I got an A), I wanted to treat him to dinner at a nice restaurant as a way to thank him for all the time and effort he put into helping me. By this point, I was aware that he was the fifth child out of ten and didn’t really come from a family where he got nice things. He pointed out to me one day that he hardly ever ate out, and if he did, it was a fast food place. I really admired him as a person at this point and wanted to let him know in a special way that I appreciated what he did for me.

Even though we had neither addressed with each other that we were going out on a date, that is practically what it became. Later he told me that when he saw me walk out of the dorm towards his car, he decided in his mind to make it a date. He pulled out all the stops too, being a complete gentleman. He made sure the car was warm (it was December) and paid for the dinner, even after I had told him that it was my treat. He said he didn’t feel comfortable with me paying. We ended up spending over two hours at the restaurant talking, just getting to know each other. I was amazed at how well we kept conversation. Before we even left the restaurant he asked if I wanted to go to one of the college’s basketball games with him just a couple of days later. This is when we both realized that we were interested in each other and something was definitely there.

medium_3984435223We talked over Christmas and went out on a few more dates once we had returned from the break. That’s when the big questions started coming up and a riff with the family came into the picture. I expressed that I was interested in entering a relationship with him with the pursuit of marriage in mind. That’s when he explained to me that his parents did not approve of dating, but courtship. He had me at that. I was already confused. He said it was more likely than not that we could not start a relationship.

He didn’t tell me much back then, but he knew that his parents would not approve of me. I assured him that I was very serious about him and was more than willing to talk anything out that might be an issue.

Our conversations quickly escalated from getting to know each other to my views on homeschooling, birth control, working as a woman, and modesty.

I had absolutely no idea where it was coming from and why it was so important to him so early in the game. It was when he took me to meet his parents when I realized that he grew up in a completely different home than me.

I was extremely nervous about meeting his parents because he had told me how strict they were about their beliefs, and he made it aware to me that they were uncomfortable with me and my interest in their son.

Everything he told me about them came true when we met. Most of our conversation was about how they disapproved of our relationship and all of the reasons for why that was, which included keeping a reputation within their social/religious group and urging their son to seek their parents’ blessing, which they assured us he did not have at this point. They told us that we were unprepared for a relationship since we had not figured out how we were going to address issues such as homeschooling and birth control as a couple. I felt like these parents were treating us like we were heading to the altar tomorrow, but I just wanted to get to know their son and his family better. Assuring his parents that we were serious about marriage was not enough for them to accept our relationship. That night we made it official anyway, even though he was slightly uncomfortable with it. There was a part of him that I could tell wanted to be with me, while another side of him was scared for his life.

It didn’t take me long to figure out why he was scared. He told me that his parents were constantly dragging him to their room or other isolated areas of the house (he was in college but still lived at home) for lectures about how he was not heeding to the instruction of his mother and father and that he was being unwise for not following their counsel. This happened several times, to the point where it drove him crazy. By this point we were open to talking about anything, so I knew about the whole thing.

He did anything he could to be out of the house. He always wanted to be with me, and I did my best to come up with several things to do to ensure that he didn’t see his parents much. He left his house every morning at 5:30 for class and sometimes didn’t leave for home until past midnight, when he knew his parents would be asleep and he could sneak into his house only to get up and leave early before they woke.

The harassment from his parents got so bad that my parents came into the picture. They drove to his house and we had a discussion about us. The entire time, his parents were completely hysterical and out of control, barking at my parents, him, and I about how terrible our relationship was. His father kept looking at him, repeating Proverbs passages about how wise sons listen to and obey their fathers and mothers, and his mother kept talking about how she saw us taking our relationship in our own hands as an act of defiance. My parents remained calm and collected throughout the meeting and mainly listened to these people list everything they didn’t like about us, including the way their son lovingly held my hand and wrapped his arms around me. His parents also didn’t see their son as ready to properly guide me throughout life since he wasn’t heeding their counsel. It all went back to the parents, and that’s when red flags went up for my parents.

My parents weren’t comfortable at all with his parents after meeting them. Throughout the entire meeting they were using code that we didn’t understand (which we later found out to be lingo used in the world of Vision Forum). They knew something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t put their finger on it. Since they saw that this boy and I were truly in love with each other, they gave us time to observe and see what would happen.

Over the months I became mentally and emotionally married to this man. We knew we were going to be together forever. We were just waiting to reach a level of financial independence to where we could. My parents had come to this realization as well, and he became a son to them. The rest of my family claimed him as one of us too. He was dearly loved by everyone in my life. My parents and I did everything in our power to help him, seeing that he needed it. While he was struggling with several things, he didn’t go into much detail with us and we didn’t understand it.

We did realize though that he almost had two personalities. One day he would be having the time of his life and the next day he would be depressed. It was very confusing for me because on the days he felt good, he was so happy and showered me with love. On his bad days, he was uncomfortable with our relationship and often shared something he didn’t like about me or my family, which made me upset and mad. Knowing that God had placed him in our lives for a reason, we simply continued loving him and letting him know that we were there for him. Since we didn’t know the extent of his background, we thought this would be the best way to handle it. He even spent the summer with us working with my father on an app (my father is an engineer and he is a computer scientist), and we thought we had seen tremendous growth from him. We thought he was finally coming into his own and developing a sense of confidence. When we headed back for school this fall, however, something dramatically changed.

He was no longer the man I thought he was. He started treating me differently, and I was so lost and confused. One day I would be his princess, and the next day he would want me out of his life. I became the one to blame for everything, and he started criticizing everything I did. It didn’t even matter that through it all, I unconditionally loved him and always put himself before me. I started changing for him because I was that afraid of losing him. Eventually, things blew up when my parents finally figured out why he was struggling with the issues he was and why his parents were acting so strange to everything about my family and me.

My parents started researching about Vision Forum once Doug Phillips’ affair was publicly announced, and after days of research, my parents finally figured out that his parents were followers of this ministry and he, the one I loved, had grown up in it. I finally realized that he had been controlled and manipulated by his patriarchal father his entire life.

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He was never allowed to be his own person and form his own opinions.

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I now realized that the first time he had ever attempted to live life the way he wanted to was with me, and it all makes sense now as to why the parents can’t stand me and my family. It also helped me understand why he changed with the flip of a switch. To this day, I do not know what, but I suspect his father started threatening and manipulating him through e-mail and text messages to get him to come back to the movement he was trying to break from. And he caved in. I truly think that he wanted it both ways: me and his way of life. He found out from my parents quickly that he could not drag me into this lifestyle, especially with the way these people viewed women.

My parents had to show him some tough love by telling him that he had to let me go while he figured life out. I could tell that he had been really stressed this fall but didn’t know until recently why. He kept begging for time and space for him to figure things out, but I didn’t realize why he wanted to do that without me.

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I now realize that the good man that I love is a victim of spiritual abuse, and truly has parents who would rather have things their way than what is best for their child.

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I know deep down he wants to be with me, marry me and live the rest of his life with me, but he’s in such a bad place. His parents have beaten him down and so effectively convinced him that this is the only way God allows his people to live. I’m upset that when things got bad he ran back to his parents and pushed me away, but unfortunately I think he’s trying to handle his situation as best he can.

Now that I know the nature of how he was raised and why he thinks the way he does, I’m worried about him more than ever. I’ve shared our story with several friends and our campus minister, hoping that people will reach out to and pray for him. On top of feeling like he can’t have a happy life with me, he feels like he’s bound to a way of life I know he doesn’t want deep down. His father is so effectively terrifying his son that he feels like he has no other choice but to obey him.

As you probably can figure, this is an extremely difficult time for me. The man who was my world is no longer with me. It’s so hard to tell when he’s made his decisions lately based on fear and manipulation. I do have some peace knowing that he sent me a long and kind e-mail apologizing for the ways he’s done me wrong and he made sure I knew that he loves and cares about me more than he realized. Time apart from me has made him realize how much I truly meant to him.

Now all I know I can do is love and care for him from afar by praying without ceasing. I keep researching just so I can understand these movements and spiritual abuse better just in case I have to help anyone through the aftermath one day.

In the past month since the devastating breakup, I have learned several things that took me forever to accept as truth. For one, I was so in love with this man that I ignored several warning signs throughout our relationship. From the lingo used in his family around the house to attending social events with his people. I always thought it was strange but couldn’t figure out why. I’ll never forget when I attended a 4th of July party at his sister’s church. They embraced the colonial lifestyle and, even though it was the 4th of July, I actually heard a Quiverfull sermon and the battle for The Lord was discussed. I was completely unaware at the time that they were talking about Vision Forum and Reconstructionism.

Two, because I was in love and thought he was the one for me, I slowly became more like these people through thoughts and actions. As Julie Anne has discussed with me before, I became more sucked into this movement in the nine months we were together –  much more than I realized. It scares me looking back how fast I fell for it. I increasingly became more critical of everyone and everything, and as embarrassing as it is to say, suffered from what I call “holier than thou” syndrome.

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I also gave up my career dreams and changed my dress. I practically became a different person.

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Three, I realize now our entire relationship for what it was. The parents, from the moment they met me and saw how serious their son was about me, wanted me converted. For example, when he left home to be with my family for the summer, his mom gave him a book on modesty that she wanted him to read to me. He read it for himself and never made me look at it. He said it was extreme and I didn’t need to read it.

I also recognize now that my former boyfriend started off truly wanting to break free from the way he was raised because he was in love with me and wanted to be with me for the rest of his life. He was a true gentleman with me in the beginning and did so much to let me know how special and loved I was. Unfortunately, as pressures increased for him to not only come back but take me with him, he proved himself unable to leave the movement. As hard as it is for me to accept, he decided in his mind at some point in our relationship that he would live that way and never really told me.  Our relationship became a lie because he hid his thoughts from my parents and me.

The only reason we figured everything out was because we recognized how different of a person he had became. It saddens me now to realize that God used us as his ticket out of the movement, and he chose to stay in an oppressive and abusive environment and hurt me and all my friends and family in the process.

I’ve also realized that it is not good for me to be around him. I naturally snap back to my changed version of myself when I’m around him. He’s simply not good for me. When we broke up, I was hoping to be friends with him but I don’t think that is a possibility. He snaps back into his two personalities when he’s around me and all it does is confuse, upset, and frustrate me. I’m afraid things have simply been ruined between us and I don’t think I can be around him anymore. Which I hate because I know deep down he has feelings for me. But I know I don’t want nor deserve a man who chooses to live that way.

On a positive note, at least through him I have decided 100% what I want from a man and will approach dating in a completely different way than I did with him. I will be much more cautious with the next man and not allow my emotions to cloud my logic. I now fully understand what I believe as well and what I want out of life. I’ve been given so much advice through this process, one of them being to figure out what I want in my life first before bringing someone else into the picture. That is what I’m using my time for now that I am single.

As I start a new chapter in my life, I pray for wisdom and guidance from God as to where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do. I also ask for prayers for my former boyfriend and his family, for my friends and family who have been affected by my past relationship, and for everyone whose lives are in chaos as a result of the recent blow up of Vision Forum.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 2:1-5

photo credit: Kikasz via photopin cc

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142 comments on “A Young Woman’s Relationship with Her Boyfriend is Shattered by Christian Patriarchy

  1. Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story. Please tell your parents that I think they are wonderful. You are so fortunate to have a mother and father who validate you and respect you.

    I’m sorry for what you went through. You do such a good job of putting it into words, and I know it will be a help to others.

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  2. Bethany,
    Thanks for sharing your story. (((hug))) Although our stories are different I remember being pursued by a young man who was “fasting” from dating and was preparing himself to only court whomever he was going to marry. These courtship relationships inevitably go too fast too soon on an emotional level. You barely know the person and you are forced to talk about how your marriage will look and how you will raise your children. These guys don’t realize they are making promises and then it is terribly painful as they rip those promises away because they were not really ready to go there with anyone.

    I am sorry for all the confusion and pain that you must have. I know God will comfort you and bring peace.

    “Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord: I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Ps 143:8-10 NLT

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  3. Thank you for your story Bethany. I, too, am sorry for all of the heartache you and your family have endured. It is good to hear that you can find some positives from your experience and move forward. Hopefully winter break will provide you some peace and rest that you need. Best wishes to you as you go back to school and pursue your dream.

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  4. Anonymous2: I will! This experience has made me realize how blessed I am to have my parents! Thank you for the condolences. I do hope it can be of help to people!

    JoyfulandFree: I do agree with how fast these courtship relationships go. When the parents “accepted” me the conversations with them turned into marriage and children, and my former boyfriend was very uncomfortable with discussing any of it because he wasn’t ready. I think he started making promises to me because he felt like he had no other choice (although I do know he wanted to marry me at a time). It was unbelievably difficult to be told one day that we were a forever thing and then the next that we were no more. He really was a rock to me and when that was taken away I felt extremely insecure. Thank you for sharing those verses!

    Just a shadow: That’s exactly what my parents said, and one of the reasons they ended our relationship. They saw where it would’ve gone 10 years down the road.

    Kathi: Thank you for the thoughts and concerns! Although it was terrible to go through the break up during the holidays, at least I get to be away from everything so I have the time and space to recover and rest. I’m in the process of moving forward with my new life and I think I’ll be ready to go back to school in a couple weeks. God has been great to me through this, and I feel His presence with me always!

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  5. Bethany you sure are a sweet child of God’s- your attitude and character shine through to everyone here. The Lord will continually bless you as you grow in Him!
    It is a sad thing when parents usurp their responsibility by bringing up His children in bitterness, bigotry, and legalism instead of unconditional love, peace, and joy.
    Bethany you made a wise choice of moving on for unfortunately this poor young man would have, more than likely, carried on his parents traits. Just by his unhesitatingly moves to go back to that tyrannical belief system shows he could not give it up; even if he would have chosen you for short term, he then would have regressed later. Tragically statistics prove it, not always, but none too often.

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  6. Bethany, you sound like you’re resilient with a good support system. Keep relying on the Lord and trusting Him for your healing.

    I ache for your former boyfriend. He sounds like he has the potential to be a fine young man, but he is trapped. I pray that he’ll be able to become a separate person before God, sooner rather than later, and without too many scars.

    To tell you the truth, I ache for his parents too. They’re trapped in a system that they don’t understand, and they are most likely both miserable. They desperately need for their eyes to be opened, hopefully through their own prayerful study of the whole Scriptures (rather than selective study, which is what every cultic group is built on). I pray that they’ll be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit in their lives.

    This is truly heartbreaking. As the Patriarchy Movement falls apart, there will be many looking for help. I pray that we’ll be ready for them.

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  7. To tell you the truth, I ache for his parents too. They’re trapped in a system that they don’t understand, and they are most likely both miserable.

    I wonder about this. I have dealings with someone in the system and there is an air of superiority and confidence about them. If things don’t go the way they had planned, then it becomes “God is Sovereign.” Everything is spiritualized and feelings/emotions are absent. They are robotic pawns. And it’s very much and us vs them, so if you don’t align with their belief system, you are a heathen and shut out. Their doctrine is their god and so if you are not “of them,” they really don’t know/want to have relationship with you. It is such a narrow-minded exclusive system of doom and gloom.

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  8. “It is such a narrow-minded exclusive system of doom and gloom.”

    And yet they loudly proclaim that their eschatology is “Optimistic”. Laughable, if the wreckage weren’t so tragic.

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  9. Bethany, how wise you are to acknowledge you were falling into the holier than thou attitude! Taking on negative attributes to fit in or because you become accustomed to the culture happens in lots of situations. Just where we live can affect how we treat others – or our job or the people we hang out with. Only so many of us never recognize what we’ve done.

    You’re also better off without him. His ups and downs and sporadic criticism of you probably wouldn’t change. This is why courtship is so silly. You need time to see the whole person and it’s easy to hide your faults for a few months, especially if you rarely spend time together or are always with others. Your parents looked out for you by looking at you and I assume they saw the effect his actions had on you and were distressed. His parents looked to him to fulfill their goals. Different values as parents.

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  10. Julie Anne,

    My heart goes out to Bethany.

    I have never heard of the “Christian Patriarchy Movement”. Is this group or movement actually call themselves the “Christian Patriarchy Movement”?

    On line, I noticed the term in Paul’s Passing Thoughts was connected to New Calvinism. (although it may not only be isolated by the Hyper-Calvinist)

    I have to believe if this so-called movement (if it really exist) is being heavily embraced by the New or Hyper-Calvinist Movement.

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  11. Bethany, I am so very sorry you have been hurt!! Yes, you made the only wise decision you could, but it hurts.

    “I will be more cautious with the next man and will not allow my emotions to cloud my logic”. Remember this even when other people criticize you for being too guarded or “picky”. Praying for you…and Merry Christmas. When your heart is breaking, Christmas becomes more than sentimentalism, doesn’t it? May the Lord God uphold you.

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  12. Mark – I don’t think Patriarchs would want to call themselves a movement, but this is a label I’ve seen identifying the type of practices within the dangerous subculture of the Homeschool Movement.

    I’ve talked with Paul before and it seems last year he would differentiate different “brands” of Calvinism. Now he seems to be lumping them all in one pot. Vision Forum was steeped in Reconstructionism/Theonomy which I believe is branched off from a basic form of Calvinism.

    I’m not sure all New Calvinists (Piper, Dever, etc) would want to go back to Old Testament laws of governance as the Reconstructionists do.

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  13. Your parents looked out for you by looking at you and I assume they saw the effect his actions had on you and were distressed. His parents looked to him to fulfill their goals. Different values as parents.

    Exactly, Jackie! Did you notice how his parents presumed a position of ownership? Good grief – the young man is an adult and at college and they are treating him like a child.

    The parents of Patriarchy USE their children to further their agenda. Healthy parents value their adult children and encourage them to grow in their unique strengths.

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  14. Wow, this is so well told and fairly presented. Thanks for sharing your story Bethany. Thanks for posting it, Julie Anne. I see myself in this young man. I acted the same way he did when I was at Taylor University and then again when I first attended Dallas Seminary. Instead of my parents manipulating and controlling me, it was my pastor. Same effect, different cause. He is a tormented person, but you are absolutely right to cut things off. He needs to figure out who his allegiance is to: his parents, or God. That will be a messy process. Bethany, you are blessed to have parents who sound both wise and loving. I hope that your story helps other young women avoid situations like this, and that it can speak some truth into the lives of any young men who read it and are locked into a Christian Patriarchy system.

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  15. I’m struck by how blatantly bold these parents were. Ok, tell me this – – when was the last time you heard of parents discussing birth control with their adult children as they are just entering a relationship? WHO DOES THAT????????? Come on you guys, is this crazy or what? These parents think they get to intervene in their ADULT children’s lives and talk about birth control even before they “the couple” are ready to discuss it? Something is wrong with this picture.

    This screams Dominionism. Bethany was getting groomed to be a womb-bearer. That’s it – – nothing more than a womb-bearer – – – to raise godly warriors to take over the world.

    And then they want to know if she’s going to be homeschooling their children – – they are looking to duplicate themselves – – you know, the Doug Phillips 200-year vision plan. This stuff is sick.

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  16. Powerful words, Bethany. When our daughter went away to college, one of the things we emphasized was carefully scrutinizing the doctrine of various Christian groups and individuals she’d meet. It sounds like you really put that to an extreme test, and I am so glad God brought you and your family safely through it all.

    Blessings,
    Tim

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  17. Julie Anne, to answer your 10:14 am question, my mom did that. She has known for years my personal choice and has never agreed with me. Once my boyfriend/now fiance joined me in my decision, she panicked and obsessed over it even more. The difference is that I am brave enough to stand up to my mom and continue to do so for the most part. Quite a few of my friends have faced similar situations where our parents want to control every move even without the influence of VF. And now we are all breaking free, sometimes in a rather dramatic fashion. I think this should be a reminder to all parents, regardless of religious beliefs: your children are not clones of yourselves and they are allowed to live/believe/do things in a different matter without the world coming to an end. If your love comes with the condition that your child can only do as you approve, you might need to reconsider your definition of love.

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  18. As a father to 3 daughters, my heart breaks for you, Bethany. All three have been hurt by men in different ways. (I sometimes feel like it was all my fault.) Our Back-at-home daughter dated a man of the New-Calvinist, Piper-Grudem, CBMW persuasion. His parents weren’t involved at all, but he constantly tried to “lead” her and be her “head”, reading her complementarian stuff and playing Driscoll sermons. They were talking marriage. Eventually they broke up– supposedly for a time– and he wanted to remain friends. After a shockingly short time, he was married to someone else.

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  19. Bethany,

    I’m so glad that you made the decision to call that relationship off, and I’m equally glad that you are healing and feeling stronger. Unless your boyfriend would have left Patriarchy behind completely, it would have been a miserable life for you. I still remember my Patriarchal FIL saying to me, “When you married my son you became my daughter.” He was dead serious. Your boyfriend’s parents would have expected your complete obedience to THEM for the rest of their days.

    It’s sickening and maddening that whenever these grown children try to mature into their own person they are branded as “rebellious.”

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  20. Mandy “I think this should be a reminder to all parents”
    My oldest daughter (a different one) told me what her friend had said to her. “Your Dad raised you right– he taught you to think for yourself!” When I heard this, I thought– REALLY? What was it? The No TV? The extra-modest clothing? Not allowing you to participate in parties with other kids? The purity ring? The Elsie Dinsmore books? Driving 30 miles to the secluded swimming hole so you wouldn’t possibly see “Thong Man” at the beach?
    BTW Julie Anne— I can guarantee you, many of these things aren’t unique to home-schooling circles. This daughter has now been now been involved in PUBLIC education for over 27 straight years — and likely will be for 27 more!

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  21. Thanks for sharing your heartbreaking experience with Christian patriarchy, Bethany. I’m sad for this man. He’s torn by an altogether new view of love VS the prejudice his parents raised him with. I hope he realizes what he was raised with is anti-love & gains the courage you have to stand against it & hopefully warn & help & encourage others to new life. To living a life overflowing with love.

    This is simply pure prejudice. Prejudice against others who believe & follow Jesus & love others.

    Bethany, your story hit a new chord with me:

    Their enemy isn’t necessarily wicked heathen unbelievers. Yes, they hide in horror from them. The enemy realistically are followers of Jesus Christ. They are who these Pats actually come in contact & rub elbows with. They are prejudice against any Christian who doesn’t agree with their agenda. Prejudice begets hate & harm.

    Patriarchy is really Puritanism, & full of prejudice, IMO. It looks like it’s self-serving, but it’s actually a self-hating, love-robbing life. Self-serving action is to love God, yourself & others. That’s how you serve yourself.

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  22. “I think this should be a reminder to all parents, regardless of religious beliefs: your children are not clones of yourselves and they are allowed to live/believe/do things in a different matter without the world coming to an end. If your love comes with the condition that your child can only do as you approve, you might need to reconsider your definition of love.”

    Yes. But that is their definition of love: control. God is love, God controls all things. Therefore love = control. A loving parent makes their child. Period. This is what the rod is for. It breaks spirits & stops thinking & cuts off ability to reason.

    Which is why these kids are so vulnerable into adulthood. They were never taught how to think, reason, rationalize. They only know how to do what they’re told. You can’t recognize right or wrong or evil that way.

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  23. Julie Anne,

    Who is placing the Christian Patriarch label on this dangerous “Homeschool Movement” that practices abuse?

    If the abuse is occuring from people who claim to profess the gospel but are really practicing sinful secular chauvinism why don’t we identify the real sin. (rather than connecting it to Christian Patriarchy)

    What I am interpreting is Christian Patriarchy can’t really exist when the sin of “cherry-picking” scripture to justify secular Chauvinistic behavior.

    Shouldn’t “Christian” Patriarchy and “Christian” Matriarchy (in a Biblical sense) be a good thing? These “Regal” labels may actually give the more abusive “Homeschool Movement” a stronger foothold of legitimacy. (in their own minds)

    I find it difficult connecting abusive sinful behavior with Christian Patriarchy or Christian Matriarchy in the same sentence. I find it easier to identify the sin of abuse and (if applicable) investigate what doctrine they are hiding behind. Otherwise it looks more like a Christian war being waged between secular chauvinist and feminist who are praticing a reckless or vague interpretation of the gospel.

    Although, those that practice “abuse” in the Homeschool Movement may champion the label “Christian Patriarch” (given to them, by whom?) because they can lay claim of battling secular feminism (or secularism in general) thereby looking more like heroes among their peers, rather than abusers.

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  24. Their enemy isn’t necessarily wicked heathen unbelievers. Yes, they hide in horror from them. The enemy realistically are followers of Jesus Christ.

    You’re right. Chew on that for a little bit. These Patriarchal families view us Christians as enemies! We are the enemy because we are not molded to their system of laws and regulations. What Bible are they reading?

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  25. Their bottom line is a God of control. And not a God of love.

    God is love. God loves us but God doesn’t make us love back. Love is a choice. It always has been. It always will be.

    Love can not be forced, coerced, controlled. It can only be freely given. It can only be freely accepted.

    This is why spiritual authority is an oxymoron.

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  26. One last reminder for young men– Obey Moses, Paul, and JESUS, who all said, “therefore doth a man LEAVE his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24, Eph 5:31, Matt 19:5, Mark 10:7 Young’s Literal Translation

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  27. Mark – both those who abuse and those like me who report on it are using these terms. It is confusing because people like Doug Wilson are defending Christian Patriarchy, yet he is one who puts out nonsense like saying marital sex is solely for the purpose bearing children. The man is to conquer, colonize, plant, the woman receives, surrenders, accepts.

    When I think of Patriarchy in the Bible, I think of Abraham the Patriarch and his lineage. I do not see Patriarchy used in the Bible as exerting one’s position of authority over others the way it is practiced by people who call themselves patriarchs today (Wilson, Phillips, Botkin, etc.). It’s like they are making their own brand of Patriarchy and calling it Biblical. What else is new in spiritual abuse? ho hum

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  28. It’s a tough one. The label Christain Patriarch is making those that practice Spiritual Abuse look like a spiritual hero or martyr, among their peers.

    But it also gives ammunition for secular chauvinist and feminist to wage a God-less war in society.

    Isolating “conquer, colonize, plant, the woman receives, surrenders, accepts” from Christian Patriarchy (or Christianity) may be difficult for some to understand, but not for me.

    Eph: 5:25-33 and Mark 10:8 contradicts any abusive secular interpretation that any gender type, embraces.

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  29. I hear ya, Mark. Maybe Pop-Cult Patriarchy? Christian Patriarchy sounds so right, Biblical, good. It’s an uphill battle with the word alone. The garden of Eden age-old take something good & twist it into something else bad, to make it appealing, strategy.

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  30. It’s the same tactic as applying “Biblical” or “godly” to words to make them sound . . . well, Biblical and godly.

    Word to the wise: when someone has to put the words “biblical” or “godly” or “Christian” in front of their pet topics, dig deeper!

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  31. I have hard time grasping the term Christian Patriarch (or simply “Patriarch” in Abraham’s case) outside of something more Spiritually Regal.

    Abuse being practiced under the Patriarch umbrella is in this instance, is sin and really a form of secular chauvinism and that’s where I struggle.

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  32. Mark, I like to differentiate between Christian patriarchy and what I call “patriocentricity,” that is, an entire system that actually revolves around the father. Rather than being two separate parts, I see both on a continuum where there are various shades of father rule. Different groups embrace different aspects of each troubling element. I first noticed the word patriarchy” being used 25 or so years ago but it gained speed after Y2K. Now the word patriarchy is used even within conservative groups in a number of denominators and is often exchanged with the word “complementarity” or “complementarianism.” In the past few years I believe the Doug Phillips/Doug Wilson/Bayly brothers brand of patriarchy has been embraced in many churches because of the tremendous emphasis on gender in reaction to homosexual rights in our culture. Unfortunately, being a woman and functioning independently from a man is considered sin and lumped in with homosexuality in these groups. In fact, one Family Integrated Church we attended had an officer who often referred to churches that didn’t hold to their brand of patriarchy as “homosexual/woman churches.”

    I have interviewed a number of people on the topic of patriarchy and all the related issues such as the doctrine of the eternal subordination of Christ, racism and pro-civil war affinity in the movement, militant fecundity etc. They can be found in two sets of free podcasts, each about 30 minutes in length in the pull down menu on the toll bar on my blog:

    http://www.thatmom.com

    Also, there is a complete series on militant fecundity in the podcast menu and there are a series of articles on the Christian patriarchy movement and its influence in the traditional church if you type in “complementation” in the search space at the top of the blog.

    Please feel free to ask questions, too, if you like…I will send you to the correct resources, Also, there is a tn of information in the comment sections each week the podcasts aired. It is amazing how many puzzle pieces come together when we all start comparing notes!!!

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  33. Julie Anne and the Moms,

    Thanks for sharing. It is rather puzzling to say the least.

    As you know Julie Anne I have connected much of this with New and Hyper Calvinism, because I have witnessed first hand the stealth and deceitful behavior of a spiritual abuser who’s wife supported his ministry but carried the load of Home Schooling 6 kids that by appearence didn’t look happy.
    (in particular his 2 eldest daughters, who I never witnessed a smile, even in family pictures)

    Maybe for me, it is easier to refer the abusers connected the more radical side of the “Homeschool Movement” sect as “Leaders” rather than Patriarchs.

    I place value in Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh: so they are no longer two, but one flesh” It takes the individualism that is connected with secular chauvinism and feminism or the reckless interpretation of scriptures by those who abuse.

    And Eph: 5:25-33 which places shared responsibilities on both spouses.

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  34. Thank you for all the comments! You all have given me a lot to think about and it’s helping me to read what everyone has to say. To comment back to what one of you said about the parents expecting me to be their daughter once I married their son….looking back I know that was going on. I could feel the increase in expectation and I unfortunately fell for it for a while and included them in my life as if they were another set of parents apart from my own. Bad call on my part, I must say, because it gave them the wrong idea that I was in this movement for the long haul. Back then I didn’t even know what I was getting myself in to.

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  35. Mark asks, “Shouldn’t “Christian” Patriarchy and “Christian” Matriarchy (in a Biblical sense) be a good thing?” I dunno, but it seems to me you might as well ask “Shouldn’t “Christian” Slavery and “Christian” War (in a Biblical sense) be a good thing?” One can no more make Patriarchy and Matriarchy good than they can make slavery and war good. Sadly, many “Christians” still argue that war, and even slavery, is biblically justified.

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  36. Bethany, you dodged a cannonball, not a bullet. You will know the right man for you because he will help you become more fully *yourself.* Anyone that you feel you have to change for, downplay parts of your personality for or assume characteristics for that are not really you, that is not the right man.

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  37. Dave A A quotes the Bible, “therefore doth a man LEAVE his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh.” Sadly if they do not leave, they cannot cleave.

    Many parents, having made narcissistic extensions of their children, do not allow them to separate and individuate, even after marriage. Well, the separation and individuation will take place, whether parents wish it or not. How much better for parents to walk alongside their children through the process, beginning with the terrible twos and culminating in adolescence, than to attempt to thwart the process at every turn. If the process is put off until later in life, nobody will be there to contribute wisdom and guiding, protective, restraint. When people in their 30’s, 40’s and even later are acting like adolescents it isn’t just ugly. Innocent people get hurt. All because of selfish parents who try to own their children.

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  38. Bethany,

    I am very grateful we don’t live in a theocracy or church-state. In times past, women were branded as heretic witches & were executed by drowning in Salem, MA by Puritans. Some men were executed as well. That is where this systematic theology eventually leads.

    In Geneva, Switzerland, Servetus was sentenced to death & burned at the stake for not believing in infant salvation through baptism, even though he believed Jesus as Lord. While John Calvin ruled the city, the church people lived in fear. Horrible times. Horribly harsh physical punishments for falling asleep in church, non attendance, talking back to parents, etc. John Calvin, pastor, was the city of Geneva’s spiritual authority.

    Faith by force & fear. No wonder Christians lived by numbing themselves to this life & only looking to the next, merely existing. Numbing to exist is not the abundant life God wants for us here on earth. That is not how our Lord’s kingdom comes here on earth. It is messed up unthinking. We are to love God, love our life, love others. Life, this life, is incredibly precious & God-given. This is a message of life, not death.

    I am so thankful this twisted, sick belief system didn’t engulf your life. It’s so hurtful, like a precious hand to a searing hot stove. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is helping & will continue to help others sort their own experiences out. And it will help others to know what to look for and avoid.

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  39. A Mom – you said “Patriarchy is really Puritanism, & full of prejudice, IMO.” Can you be more specific? I’m going to assume New England Puritan, and I can agree, they were nuts (I’ve read a few of their books). There were Puritans in England that were not though – the Presbyterian ones wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). Here’s a “scorecard” to help you understand that “puritanism” wasn’t just one neatly packaged theology – there are branches to puritanism too. 🙂 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/07/08/different-types-of-american-and-english-puritans/

    Mark – New calvinism – ala Driscoll, Piper, and Wilson – they are truly not reformed. They are parading as reformed. This is a crazy world where we have to check what pastors claim they are against the classification. (Or is it ok in the postmodern world to call yourself whatever you want and therefore you are? 😉 See:
    http://heidelblog.net/2013/10/a-response-to-rachel-held-evans-regarding-wilson-and-the-definition-of-reformed/
    http://heidelblog.net/2013/11/is-john-piper-reformed-or-holding-the-coalition-together/

    thatmom – “I have interviewed a number of people on the topic of patriarchy and all the related issues such as the doctrine of the eternal subordination of Christ, racism and pro-civil war affinity in the movement, militant fecundity etc.” IMHO, they are all card carrying members of the narcissism gold card club. 😉

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  40. Thanks for sharing Bethany,
    I think you did the right thing and came to some important conclusions. Just wanted to share a little bit of my own story that is similar in some ways. I married my wife almost 9 years ago now, but I was in a Calvinist/Reformed Baptist group for several years leading up to when I got married (and after for a few years). I remember feeling a lot of pressure to get things right leading up to being engaged and then married, but most of that came from myself. I’d imagine your former boyfriend felt a lot of that same pressure, even pressure he put on himself. Marriage is a mysterious thing I think, it’s really hard to put in a box and create clean cut rules that apply to everyone. We didn’t date before we were engaged, in fact we didn’t even court. I thought that the Lord had told me to marry her (still do in fact), so I prayed about it for a year and then just proposed to her! At the time I didn’t know anyone else who had done it that way, but since there have been others. I thank God that He’s graciously guided our marriage through many dangers and pitfalls so far, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend others to follow what we did. 🙂

    It strikes me that many patriarchal parents want to both raise up new leaders in the following generation and also completely control their kid’s choices (even as adults). To me one of those goals will fail, and its usually the first. A likely result I believe is the strong patriarch groups will greatly diminish in fervor within the next 30 years as the replacement generation does not have their same convictions or steely will.

    I wish the very best for you Bethany and hope you are guided by the Lord to strong and gentle man who has his own convictions and with whom you can both equally follow the Lord.

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  41. A Mom – Please see http://clark.wscal.edu/calvin_tyrant.php (It was political, this is a very interesting paper by a professor)
    “As a matter of history it is inescapable that Calvin played a central role in the arrest and prosecution of Servetus but it is simply not true that Calvin killed Servetus. The city council is responsible for Servetus’ death. Had Calvin objected to the death penalty it is unlikely that the city council would have listened or could have listened.”

    A Mom, I want you to know there are different brands and types of reformed believers (aka Calvinists). I’d like to ready out my hand in friendship, fellowship, peace and love to you. We are not all the blood thirsty, condemning, stake making….ummm… politicians. 🙂

    Bethany – Wow! So glad that all fell apart though I know the pain and confusion from it all was horrible. It would have been terrible to have them as in-laws. I’m afraid you are right, there is no way to fix it. Better to learn from it and keep it in the rear view mirror. May the Lord Bless you and keep you!

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  42. “It is such a narrow-minded exclusive system of doom and gloom.”

    So, what you’re saying is that they are “heathen[s] and shut out”?

    Don’t worry, I noticed the hypocrisy in your statement.

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  43. A Mom – ” Servetus was sentenced to death & burned at the stake for not believing in infant salvation through baptism” Why do you say this?
    “Michael Servetus (c.1506-October 27, 1553), a Spaniard martyred in the Reformation for his criticism of the doctrine of the trinity and his opposition to infant baptism, has often been considered an early unitarian.” http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/michaelservetus.html

    There’s many other educational links if you google his name. He was an interesting historical character.

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  44. Bethany, in regard to your statement about treating his parents as if they were your own, thus giving them a false impression, that’s very normal to do. You thought they were healthy adults; if they had been, they would have reacted like your parents probably would – knowing that this was simply a step and not taking it too seriously. It is sweet that you wanted them to like you and I would guess that if you do choose to marry someday, your in laws will consider themselves fortunate indeed.

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  45. How ironic that just as I am finishing the comments, the original version of “The Stepford Wives” is coming on TV.

    I am sorry you were hurt, but even happier you got out of this. I am so glad your parents intervened to help. There is so much more waiting for you than the limited, oppressive life that world gad to offer.

    Your ex has a long road to travel if he wants to break free. Having broken free from a few controlling people myself, please be very firm in your boundaries with him, and keep him out of your life UNLESS he has already left and is in counseling to recover. Otherwise, you could be kept straddling both worlds for a very long time.

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  46. Under the Radar, Let’s leave Calvinism out of it. Humor me if you will. Here are my thoughts on how spiritual abuse is always linked to spiritual authority/control:

    If someone believes in spiritual authority or control over another person, BUT they claim a religion that decries spiritual authority/control, I can’t say their religious belief is control-based, can I? But I can point out the inconsistency between their action & belief system.

    If someone believes in spiritual authority or control over another person AND their religious beliefs support it & a controlling puppeteer God, I will start with their religious belief & say it’s controlling & hurtful. Note they are quite consistent, right?

    If someone truly believes each person is free to choose their own religious beliefs BUT claims a religion belief that is control-based, then they are inconsistent. They need to know their religion is control-based & hurtful. Why? Even if they wouldn’t peddle it, they may be apt to stand by or remain silent.

    Example: On the other end, if someone says they are a Jack Hylesist follower & holds him up as a spiritual authority, that is a problem. Furthermore, I think ALL claimed spiritual authority other than Jesus is man-made, diminishes God & is controlling.

    Why do we need to follow ANY other person, living or dead, other than Jesus Christ? Why aren’t the scriptures, Holy Spirit, & conscience enough? What was a person to do if they lived & died before the Westminster Confession of Faith was written in 1646?

    Hope you don’t want to burn me at the stake. 😉 Some pastors today probably would if they could. There would be no spiritual abuse blogs either. If you read back through the posts, they & the control-based religions they preach are easily identified.

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  47. BeenThereDoneThat at 11:46 am said, “It’s sickening and maddening that whenever these grown children try to mature into their own person they are branded as “rebellious.”” ” Yes. The skewed thinking that following God translates to unquestioning obedience to the father in all things causes adult children who very much want to follow God to remain trapped.

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  48. Gary W @ 4:37 p.m. 12/18

    Not sure if you have followed all of my responses in this thread but even if you have I still disagree with parts of your statement. Now if I excluded :Biblical and Christian I would’ve agreed with you.

    The behavior of abusers aren’t Christ-like or Biblical.

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  49. Mark,

    It is entirely possible I am missing the point you are making. I am understanding that you think the practice of patriarchy and matriarchy can be biblical, as opposed to the kind of non-biblical patriarchy being discussed. I expect we will disagree, and I am not intending to criticize you holding a legitimately arguable position. It’s just that I personally don’t see how it is any more possible to have Biblical patriarchy and matriarchy than it is to have, say, Biblical murder. adultery, slavery, polygamy, or concubinage.

    “Bethany’s” horrendous experience is, among other things, convincing testimony to the evil that can be perpetrated under the label of patriarchy. Certainly there are also horrible marriages, for example, but it is not difficult to find evidence of marriage done right. I’m not sure you could say that there is any legitimate evidence of patriarchy done right.

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  50. Mark (20, 12:03pm) I would just like to point out that the phrase “secular chauvinism” is redundant. Chauvinism is just that, whether done by unbelievers or believers. To add “secular” smells of distancing.

    Particularly when taking up the phrase “Christian Patriarchy” as a desirable alternative.

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  51. Patrice, Gary W

    Thanks for sharing and correction.

    Julie Anne asked us not connect Calvinism on this thread so I will limit my response to you. (also avoiding Hyper, New or Reformed which I think is very relevant in this movement, in particular Bethany’s case)

    This movement exist because they refer themselves as “Christian”. To me isolating the term ChristIan away from these guys (or even Patriarch) reduces this abusive movement’s relevance while exposing their sin and pinpointing the cult, covert, stealth, deceitful and controll this movement embraces and needs to exist. Going so far to judging those to hell, if you don’t embrace their Methodology. (control)

    Even Patrice, corrected me about termology when I was referring to secular Chauvinism and Feminism or even when we refer to the phrase “Christian Patriarchy” which I feel this movement enjoy’s because of how Patriarch was used in the Bible.

    These guys are also martyring themselves by elevating themselves comparable to Moses and Paul in the Bible.

    I can simplify termology of Chauvinism, Feminism, abusive people who are called Christian Patriarchs or Patriarchs as “Sin”.

    Some of these movements are off springs of Hyper Theologies that cherry-pick verses in the Bible to authenticate their relevance (and maintain control) much of the time unaware of their sin and “cult” they have affiliated themselves to.

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  52. Mark (21, 8:33AM) Ok. I don’t mind using the term “Christian Patriarchy” because it is a self-proclaimed label and it’s accurate.

    You are correct that it is deeply chauvinistic, and even worse than usual because these ideologues appeal to the nature of God to support their particular sin. And they also drag the social systems pre-eminent during Bible times into it, proposing that those systems are as authoritative as the Bible itself simply because its writers discussed how to live in those systems.

    If one wants to distinguish this chauvinism from other types, one might give it an adjective. I don’t know, “godified chauvinism”, “spiritualized chauvinism” or something like that.

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  53. For the record, we will definitely be discussing the more fringe groups, i.e., Theonomy, Kinists, Reconstructionists) as it relates to Phillips and the whole Homeschool Movement.

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  54. Patrice,

    I guess, I do mind connecting “Christian” or “Patriarch” in the Biblical sense. These guys are also referring themselves as a modern day Moses or Paul, as well. I don’t think I’ll be comparing them with Moses or Paul.

    I like your idea and correction when you wanted to simplify things.

    They can call themselves what they want, but I don’t have to agree with the titles they give themselves. I think “Cult” and “Sin” simplifies it, for me. I then would isolate their cherry-picking of scriptures that is creating a misguided interpretation of Biblical Doctrine, they use to manipulate the abused.

    If it is less cumbersome for the abused and the abuser to refer them as “Christian Patriarch” or “Patriarch” for easy identification, I have taken notice.

    We may not completely agree in terminology in describing these guys. (or “Movement”, as I don’t want to isolate certain wives who embrace this garbage)

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  55. Mark, yes, there were people in the Bible considered “patriarchs” in the sense of Abraham, from whom the people of Israel developed. There are also patriarchs and matriarchs who are the oldest man and woman of individual families, given respect for their experience/knowledge (and even wisdom, if they have been graced) even while they decrease and their children increase.

    But this term has been replaced by “fathers of nations” (where are the “mothers of nations”?) and “grandfather” and “grandmother”. And the term “patriarchy” has now become dictionary-defined as a social organization of rule by men. And that is an unhealthy organization. It tends to create men who presume to be as heroic as Moses or Paul, as you say, and also fractures the image of God in those women who stay within it.

    I suspect there’ll be some ongoing confusion in conversations unless you repeatedly clarify what you mean when you use the term. But perhaps it’s worth it, if you feel that strongly about the term. 🙂

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  56. Julie Anne,

    That is my point, it is a contradiction.

    Thanks Patrice,

    I suspect some of these so-called “Patriarchs” don’t consider themselves as chauvinist and then in turn consider women (who question their methodology) as a feminist. Are abusers conjuring an appearence making the abused look like feminist attacking on the Godly?

    Patriarch and Matriarch seems to be buzz words, more to me than most in this thread.

    The term Patriarch and Matriarch being embraced in this movement, is degrading to me and in my view degrading to women. It makes these words unclean.

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  57. That’s why I struggle when the abuser or abused refer these abusers as “Christian Patriarch” or “Patriarch”. (or in some cases Matriarchs)

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  58. AnotherTom: The colonial lifestyle is basically taking it back to the old days. I suspect around the time of the puritans. Super long dresses, bonnets, ringing chickens’ necks in the backyard….

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  59. LOL, Bethany! 🙂

    I was one of those crazy moms who bought into the hype, bought a wheat mill, and made my family whole wheat bread from wheat berries. I did not wear a bonnet or an apron or a denim jumper, however.

    I was probably wearing my jeans and Birkenstocks. I was a little crunchy.

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  60. AMom: The enjoyment of life that you talked about earlier, the life that God wishes us to enjoy on earth, was a concept I could never get my former boyfriend to understand. Every time we did something fun, a day of depression followed where he would feel guilty about having fun the day before. He could never simply enjoy anything. If it wasn’t a depressive day, he ended the day by criticizing the fun we had. There was only so long I could put up with that because I’m a relatively fun and optimistic person.

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  61. Seth: I could definitely see my former boyfriend putting tremendous pressure on himself to make our relationship perfect. Whenever something went wrong, he would get upset and say that was not how relationships should be. Even if it was a little fight or misunderstanding, which happens to all couples, especially if you’re around someone long enough.

    I’m amazed that you did not date your wife, but it seems like you really prayed for The Lord’s guidance in your decision and I’m so glad your marriage has been a blessing!

    It is funny that these families want powerful leaders to take over and want to control every aspect of their children’s lives. This, among practically everything else I’ve read about this group’s thoughts and actions, is completely contradictory.

    I am prayerfully waiting for the man that you have described. When the time comes, I will be ready to be shown that not all men treat women in the way I have been treated in the past.

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  62. That is so weird for me to read about the fun and then the depression cycle of your boyfriend, Bethany. I remember at my cult church feeling guilty for having fun, too. While I was at the cult church, I would knit with my girlfriends from our former church and I knew that CON was not happy about that. But even in my own mind, I had to justify the time spent knitting with friends. Was the conversation godly? In these cult environments you are just not allowed to have fun for having fun. I cannot believe I lived like this.

    And you would have been sucked into this environment, Bethany. Imagine being a mom and dealing with kids who are constantly playing. That is part of their normal development – they learn through play. You would have to squelch them and account for their time to make sure everything had a spiritual justification. This is bondage.

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  63. Under the Radar: I am seeing more clearly with each day that the explosive ending of our relationship was a blessing in disguise. I could not have lived the way I’ve spent the last year forever. It put so much pressure on me that I lost myself, and I think my friends and family who observed were afraid of never getting me back. Honestly, with the dynamics of the family, it felt like his parents were already my in-laws. This year I got a taste of what the rest of my life would’ve been like and looking back, it would’ve been a miserable one for me. I would’ve been beaten down my entire life, to the point where I would have no self esteem or sense of self worth. That’s about how bad I was after only experiencing it for a few months.

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  64. Jackie C: I am still hoping to marry and I pray that I have a good relationship with my in-laws. Having a good relationship will be important to me because that will be his family, and I will love them because he does. That’s exactly why it was so important for me to spend time with my former boyfriend’s family. I wanted to show him that I cared about him enough to love and care for the people he was closest to.

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  65. TLC: This is my first experience with having to set such boundaries, so I pray for strength in future if anything ever comes up.

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  66. Rebecca: I feel that is what my former boyfriend is feeling. He genuinely has a strong desire to serve The Lord, but I think he thinks the only way he can do that is to serve his parents. I think he is trapped. I just pray that one day he will be strong enough to follow the life that God wants him to live, even if that differs from what his parents want him to do.

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  67. Bethany,

    Some “unmentionable” Doctrines require their members to have noticeable suffering in their lives and want you to wear spiritual persecution on your sleeves otherwise they won’t think that you are saved.

    Joy and Smiling is a serious matter and may be offensive to some of them.

    Oddly, if we are suppose to evangelize how is it possible to reach the lost, if by appearence the Christian lacks joy?
    or
    Why would the lost (or saved) be attracted to attending a church or be part of a movement whose members are more miserable, than they are?

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  68. Julie Anne: Haha 🙂 I’m serious about the raising chickens though. My former boyfriend’s sister and her husband do that. I have never seen that in my life, but my grandmother did that growing up and my father recalls seeing his mother slaughter a chicken. I’m not saying I’m against anyone providing food for themselves (I know people keep chickens for their eggs, and I think my former boyfriend’s family uses them for this reason), but it definitely shocked me. They were also very into Civil War re-enactments and events in general where you dressed like colonial characters. I know of others who participate in re-enactments as well, but now I just wonder if these people participate in all this to further their Reconstructionist agendas?

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  69. Julie Anne: I truly don’t understand why these people think it’s wrong to have fun. I certainly have thought about how this movement would affect my children, and now that I see all the damage it does, I’m not interested. I know these people are against psychology and stuff, but I’ve taken a few courses and now I know how bad this movement affects children psychologically, especially in their crucial developing phases. It’s almost like they are punished repeatedly for doing what they are supposed to: discover the world through play. I want a world of opportunities and adventure for my children, and I know this movement would not allow this. I am also a very warm and fuzzy person that shows a lot of affection towards children, and I will not deny my children of that because it is seen as impure to hug. And above all, I want my children to follow their dreams, and I want them to dream big. I’ll never forget all those times watching children’s shows with my former boyfriend and him having a problem with everything and coming up with some reason for not allowing our future children to watch it. I’ve never met someone who had a problem with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins. I’ve learned from my parents that there is a balance in life, and I will not be that restrictive on my children. I know even my former boyfriend didn’t appreciate being so restricted his whole life.

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  70. Mark: I see. That’s what really bothers me about that mindset. It does the exact opposite of bring people to Christ. Anyone on the outside looking in would not be interested in a life with Christ if it means being miserable all the time.

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  71. Bethany: Even in the inside, our church attendance dropped and kids Sunday School died altogether under our former abusive Pastor.

    A month into his tenure, he infact proclaim behind the pulpit that he didn’t see enough evidence of suffering and persecution in the church and then because of that lack of evidence he openly stated those without open persecution probably wasn’t saved.

    Interestingly, in Colossians 1:24 it states “I now rejoice in my sufferings for your sake ….”

    I have “happy” Christian friends who are up to their neck with aligators and they aren’t openly displaying persection for all the world to see.

    Bad theology disputes that.

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  72. It’s the Doctrine they are being taught to believe from of certain Seminaries and Movements.

    He also has deep and un-resolved issues of unforegiveness in his heart, that he has been carrying for years.

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  73. Bethany, so glad you were able to break free from a relationship that would only have gotten more destructive. I’ve been through the pain of breaking off an engagement, it was awful but the right thing to do as I wasn’t ready to be married and he wanted to settle down. My family, like yours, were so supportive.

    What Mary wrote earlier is so true – “You will know the right man for you because he will help you become more fully *yourself.* Anyone that you feel you have to change for, downplay parts of your personality for or assume characteristics for that are not really you, that is not the right man.”

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  74. Mark: Those are two messed up things right there: bad doctrine being drilled in your head and an unforgiving heart.

    Estelle: I hate that you had to go through that. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this break up, it’s that doing the right thing is not always the easy or painless thing. I will admit that there was a point towards the end of our relationship where I wanted to get out of all the craziness but didn’t want to experience the pain of the break up. Thank goodness for supportive families! Mine is certainly helping a great deal. I’ve also learned that he is not the right man for me because he changed me so much. The right man for me will not only approve of who I am but love me for it.

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  75. Mark, where have you ever heard of these groups calling themselves Matriarchs? The only sense in which I ever heard the “Christian” patriarchy crowd discuss matriarchy, is to claim: “If you don’t want patriarchy, you will get matriarchy, which is even worse.”

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  76. Patrice said: “Mark, yes, there were people in the Bible considered “patriarchs” in the sense of Abraham, from whom the people of Israel developed. There are also patriarchs and matriarchs who are the oldest man and woman of individual families, given respect for their experience/knowledge (and even wisdom,”
    That idea – how the Bible’s use of “patriarch” is different from theirs – is discussed here: http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/why-you-cannot-get-patriarchy-from-abraham-isaac-and-jacob/

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  77. @Retha:

    The only sense in which I ever heard the “Christian” patriarchy crowd discuss matriarchy, is to claim: “If you don’t want patriarchy, you will get matriarchy, which is even worse.

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “war between the sexes”. Again, a result of reducing everything to Power Struggle, where there is only Top or Bottom, Dom or Sub, those holding The Whip and those feeling The Whip.

    I can think of two references in SF:

    Larry Niven’s World out of Time(?), where genetic engineering ended up with a permanent war between the sexes with immortal pre-pubescent Boys and Girls (their official names) as the ruling castes of two caste systems in a permanent cold war. The immortality-before-puberty meant there could be NO “fraternization with the Enemy”.

    Norman Spinrad’s A World Between, where lack of FTL travel means interstellar wars are fought through “Hearts and Minds” propaganda warfare. In the specific case in the novel, two superpowers in a vicious Cold War (the “Transcendental Scientists”, total Male Supremacists who have literally exterminated everything female in their realm and reproduce by male-only cloning) and the Femocrats, (total Female Supremacists who have all-but-exterminated everything male in their realm) both come to a neutral world and take over its media for their propaganda war. The world in question literally finds itself “a world between” with two totally-incompatable Pure Ideologies using them for their propaganda-war Power Struggle to the Death. Literally “If you don’t want Patriarchy, you will get Matriarchy.”

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  78. (Different Bethany here 🙂 )

    Bethany, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sad that both you and your former boyfriend have had to go through this. It is a uniquely painful situation to be in a romantic relationship with someone in or struggling to leave a patriarchal, authoritarian lifestyle.

    I am so glad you’ve realized that a healthy relationship will not cause you to change yourself (except in positive ways that *you* want and initiate) or lose who you are. I think that’s one of the most important lessons to learn in dating. It can be so hard to step back and realize that, as much as we want to please the person we care about, doing so at the expense of our own personality will always backfire eventually. I think I’ve been through some similar situations…I’ve been in relationships or close friendships where I felt I had to be someone different in order to make the other person happy, and I’ve also been the person struggling to free themselves from legalism.

    My relationship with my ex-boyfriend was sometimes marred by my anxiety about the legalist beliefs I was trying to leave behind. One summer my parents convinced me to read part of a book about (against) dating, and after just a few pages I felt so guilty and wondered if I should have even started dating at all. And all my wavering and doubts were really hard on my ex-boyfriend; he was so worried that I would choose my parents, and legalistic beliefs, over him.

    I hope that both you and the young man who’s been so dear to you will continue to heal, and I hope that he’s able to find freedom and life apart from the controlling beliefs of his parents.

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  79. @Mark:

    A month into his tenure, he infact proclaim behind the pulpit that he didn’t see enough evidence of suffering and persecution in the church and then because of that lack of evidence he openly stated those without open persecution probably wasn’t saved.

    Makes you want to give the Pastor solid evidence that he WAS saved, if you get my drift. Anyone who could talk that glib about Persecution(TM) ans suffering has obviously never been on the receiving end of any himself.

    Reminds me of the Guns & Ammo and Soldier of Fortune editorials of the Seventies, constantly denouncing “Spoiled Rotten Baby-Fat Americans” (which obviously didn’t include the readers of G&A or SoF) as compared to the Tough and Rugged Communist Ubermensch. The Christianese equivalent of this (around the same time) was comparing the “Spoiled Rotten Baby Fat American Christians” with the REAL Christians Suffering Communist Persecution. After the Second Russian Revolution, Christianese media were full of how the On Fire True Christians from Russia Tempered By Persecution would teach us Spoiled Rotten Baby Fat American “Christians” what REAL Christ-following was. Needless to say, this did not go down as-scripted. Yet none of these American Christian Spokesholes ever volunteered to go to the USSR and Be Refined in the Fire of Persecution. And a lot of Russian Christian of the period would have been happy to get out and into the Spoiled Rotten Baby-Fat USA.

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  80. @Mark:

    That’s why I struggle when the abuser or abused refer these abusers as “Christian Patriarch” or “Patriarch”. (or in some cases Matriarchs)

    How about “Male Supremacists” for the “Christian Patriarchs” and “Female Supremacists” for the lunatic-fringe of Feminists?

    Or just “Control Freaks” in general?

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  81. Control freak is much more accurate & cuts right to the chase. I’ve used those words to describe their actions a time or two here. 😉

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  82. Thanks, Bethany. It was a long time ago now, almost twenty years! And since then, I have met and married a wonderful man who is truly my best friend and with whom I have three delightful children. And, bonus, my in laws are lovely people who have welcomed me with open arms and hearts. But, yeah, it was a dark time but I wish you God’s peace and that you experience His love in unforgettable ways through this time.

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  83. Bethany,

    Greetings! I’m glad you made it through such a thing. I also went through a Calvinsit/Reformed Baptist church. They made a big deal out of single men getting married.

    You wrote (in the main blog post): “Our conversations quickly escalated from getting to know each other to my views on homeschooling, birth control, working as a woman, and modesty.” I think the reason for this, probably, is that he hadn’t asked you up until that point and he couldn’t honestly answer his parents when they grilled him about your beliefs. He likely shifted gears so he could answer his parents. The most important things need to be discussed up front, you know.

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  84. Bethany, you are a wise young woman with solid supportive parents and I wish all God’s best for you. It’ll take a while to heal from that lovely messed-up young man and he’ll always be in your heart, a little, with his underlying kind nature, his rage and pain. I pray to God that he eventually finds freedom. Unless young people kick their traces in a big bang, the leaving process (if they take it) is long and slow.

    Retha, I knew someone somewhere had done a good treatise on the use of patriarch in the Bible. Thanks!

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  85. My abusive upbringing wasn’t homeschooling patriarchy, but we children had to present as not too happy or too sad. If we were playing rambunctiously, we were being wild and had to quit playing. If we laughed merrily, we were making too much “racket” but if our faces looked unhappy, we were ungrateful. The only expression allowed was a quiet half-smile, sort of like Mona Lisa’s (without that hint of secret lol), so that’s what we did.

    Extreme control mechanism.

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  86. Mark (21, 2:06pm, 3:01pm) Do you have any idea where your ex-pastor got his ideas of suffering (besides the verses themselves)? I mean, was he pulling them out of his back-end or was there some doctrinal treatise from which he drew?

    I ask because my pastor-father had told me throughout my childhood that I was “made for suffering” which, besides being cruel, is plain bizarre. I would like to find a source for it (not sure why, maybe just to give it context?). Your former pastor seems to have a similar mind-set.

    Not that abusive people can’t come up with their own garbage, of course. But I have been relieved to discover that although abuse is various, most of it isn’t at all creative. Abusive people generally walk the same nasty paths—some just go further down it than others.

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  87. There are too many comments here to read through so I don’t know what has been discussed…
    I woke up this morning thinking about my freshman year son at school and the pressures on young kids today, and how he must have so many conflicting thoughts about purity, dating etc.
    He has not really dated one girl yet in his 18 years.

    One thing I will say when reading this and being in my late 50’s.
    There is so much to learn at 18 years old.
    Whether a young man like this, or any young man at that age. Starting college, thinking about his future. Barely into academics. Not the time to start thinking about marriage. Just my point of view. Whether involved in extreme Christianity or just trying to get his bearings in life and become a man. I think the pressure meeting a 18-19 yr. old with marriage on her mind…Personally I think it’s just too young.

    I pray for Bethany that she grows from this experience, and has she has noted, it has given her a valuable lesson that she can grow from. That’s what life is all about. Not to sound unsympathetic. But as some of us older folk realize, this is just part of life. Thankfully all the details were exposed before she got involved in something that she could not get out of. God is good. In time, the young man will hopefully be delivered as well.

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  88. PS. I realize my post seems unsympathetic. I was just thinking of my experiences at that age not being a believer and my own relationships at that age and in my early 20’s. It was painful, but looking back, God is good. He knows just what we need. He protects us, he reveals darkness. He was with me even as I suffered and then at 40 saved me. This world does not come tied up in a pretty package. There is much suffering Life experiences.. It all brings us closer to him.

    I don’t think teenagers are the same as in Biblical days as far as getting married so young at 15.
    I think this can bring a whole ‘nother discussion.
    I think about this subject a lot.
    Is it better to get married at 18 because of the purity issues when you may be too young and inexperienced to make that life choice?
    What does a teen do with so many years of higher education/purity/marriage.
    Is it really possible to go to medical school and wait till you are 34 to become intimate with who you are dating? Of course my experience was as non believer- like many I know who are now raising Christian kids.

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  89. I want to throw out a question for those hear.

    I have heard from some Christians that in biblical times if you were intimate with the one you were with that was considered “marriage” (one flesh). Some today say that if a couple are courting and they have been intimate, and later decide on marriage, since they are the only ones they have been intimate with, since their union they are biblically “married”. Any thoughts on that?

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  90. Good morning, Hannah. Yah, the whole dating/marriage process is a hard slog in itself. (Sooo glad I don’t have to do it again!) How overwhelming, then, to load that on top of trying to come to terms with such an upbringing! And it is no wonder Bethany was extra confused and hurt, not having met that sort of abuse before, and finding it in a first love!

    Indeed, life has pain in it, and some get more of it than others. We learn what we can, when possible, but it is always grievous when damage occurs. It was not meant to be so!

    Celebrating Christmas today at my house. I wish you and all the others here a delightful, affectionate holy day, whether alone or with family!

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  91. Patrice-

    I heard this once..there is pain arriving into this world (both for mother and child) and that somehow it prepares us for what is ahead.
    All pain toughens the skin and thus the Spirit.
    And one who suffered a lifetime of pain, the only solution is for Jesus to carry that load for us. One we were never meant to bear.
    As a Jew I never much got into the “Spirit” of Christmas even as a believer but I thank Him daily for His birth into this world to bring me salvation and a rest I could never have apart from Him.
    Blessings to you and yours and may we all rest in His peace that surpasses all understanding!
    I need some prayer since we are going to visit unsaved family members.
    May His light in us shine through darkness for each of our family members who do not yet know Him!

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  92. Patrice –

    “I ask because my pastor-father had told me throughout my childhood that I was “made for suffering” which, besides being cruel, is plain bizarre. I would like to find a source for it (not sure why, maybe just to give it context?). Your former pastor seems to have a similar mind-set.”

    Don’t you think your father went here to ease his own conscience? How else can a father justify the awful things he does to his children in the name of God? This is what people with sick minds do. Justification is a step in seering the conscience. Your father went down that path, Patrice. Thankfully, you have not chosen the same path 🙂 Many children do choose the same path as their parents. I wonder if someone told your father the same?

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  93. Hannah said, “I have heard from some Christians that in biblical times if you were intimate with the one you were with that was considered “marriage” (one flesh). Some today say that if a couple are courting and they have been intimate, and later decide on marriage, since they are the only ones they have been intimate with, since their union they are biblically “married”. Any thoughts on that?”

    Well, here’s one thought. Can a woman be married without a husband?
    John 4 (NIV) says:
    “I have no husband,” she replied.
    Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

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  94. Bethany: I can relate to your ex. Throughout our relationship, my former boyfriend felt guilty for dating me (I don’t know if he always wrestled with these thoughts but I suspect he did), and I was worried that he would leave me for his family’s legalistic way of life. And he did. But by doing that, he proved to me that he was not the one for me. The one for me will always stand by my side no matter what the cost, and he will certainly choose to be with me over mom and dad.

    Thank you! I hope he can find his way out of it as well, because right now he is so trapped and deeply embedded in the system I just don’t see him breaking free of it.

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  95. Estelle: I hope that is the future family I am blessed with! I don’t know if I’ve told you this earlier or not but I really do pray for a wonderful man who will stick with me through anything, and I hope he has a great family who loves me to go along with it. I’m so glad that The Lord has blessed you with this!

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  96. Steve Scott: Why do the Calvinist/Reformed Baptist churches make a big deal about single men getting married?

    That makes sense. I know his parents were grilling him about me ever since we had our first date. When he mentioned a girl to his dad the first thing he asked my former boyfriend was what my beliefs on baptism were. I thought it was odd that he didn’t even ask his son first what he thought of me or what I was like. Although, looking back, I guess he didn’t really care. He just wanted to see if my beliefs would match up with his enough to be an acceptable future wife for his son.

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  97. Patrice: I am glad that I am out of the “crying all the time, my life is over” phase of the healing process. Now I’m progressing into anger, especially towards his parents because I know now that this is practically and entirely their fault. I have no doubt in my mind that they did several things with my former boyfriend behind the scenes that I never knew about. I knew from the beginning they always hated me and wanted us broken up, but I was disappointed of my former boyfriend for actually letting that happen. I have to be gracious to him though because I have no idea what his parents held over his head to get him to do what he did to me, and I know deep down he is probably hurting a lot more than me. He’ll realize with time that the support system he had with me and my family and friends is gone. He might be too wrapped up in his family and the system to see it now, but I suspect one day he might realize he made a very big mistake by leaving me in the dust.

    It’s sad that the process is so slow, but I guess that just proves how destructive the system really is on the psyches of these people.

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  98. Patrice: After hearing all these stories, including yours, I’m really struggling with being tolerant of people who are extremely controlling.

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  99. Hannah: I do agree with you that we were too young. Unfortunately, my former boyfriend felt so much pressure from his parents and me on marriage. For his parents, they wanted us to get married so young since they saw how serious he was with me and they didn’t really see a reason to wait. They were especially freaky on the purity stuff and didn’t want us to lose our purity by their standards outside of marriage. I also now realize looking back that they wanted us married so young so that I had no choice but to willingly submit to my rightful place in the system. For me, I simply turned into what most girls turn into when they fall in love and think they have found the one. I just started talking excitingly about it, and I will admit that I mentioned it far too frequently with him. My former boyfriend was in a tough spot in our relationship, between being badgered by his parents and being with a girl who was more confident in her love for him than the other way around. On top of all this he was trying so hard to figure out who he was and what he believed, which was an even harder process for him than most with the oppressive way he was raised.

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  100. Bethany,

    I am so, so happy & cheer you on for processing through this like you have so far. It is obvious you have done so much thinking about what was going on, what happened, what you noticed & felt uncomfortable with then, what you didn’t notice at the time but see now looking back. This is how healing happens.

    Sometimes when we are hurt, and hurt badly, it is painful to even think about it, so we chalk it up to something that doesn’t require thinking, dismiss it & attempt to move on. We DO really need to process through things no matter how painful or slow the process is, so we can learn, be even more wise, be even more aware, know what is good & what to look for going forward.

    I would say you are so young to be so wise, but that’s not correct. Wisdom isn’t necessarily tied to age. Wisdom is a willingness to think, ponder & learn. And is also child-like faith in God’s love, even when circumstances may try to get us to believe differently. I am glad you have your parents & friends to help you through. Know we have you in our thoughts & prayers as well. Godspeed, Bethany! 🙂

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  101. Bethany

    You sound like a young lady with a good head on her shoulders. And one seeking the Lord’s will. And you have humility which is one of the greatest traits of a Spirit led Christian.

    We all must learn from out mistakes. Some of us go around the same mountain over and over again….like the Israelites. They had a 4 day journey that turned into far too long…

    If you seek the Lord with all your heart, He will make these experiences mold you into the person He wants you to be. Sounds like you are well on your way. I would continue to pray for this young man. This may not be the end of the story! With God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

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  102. Bethany asks: “Steve Scott: Why do the Calvinist/Reformed Baptist churches make a big deal about single men getting married?”

    I learned it this way: God created Adam and he was alone. All the animals had mates, Adam didn’t. God said it was not good for man to be alone, then made Eve. They use this verse from Genesis as a proof text that men have to get married, because this was God’s plan for the human race. God is the one who said it was not good to be alone. Men should get married and have families. The lone exception to this is where Jesus says that there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom, such as the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself. (Actually the other exception would be unmarried castrated males used as body guards for harems, but we don’t do much of that in America).

    So, unless an “of age” male has taken the vow of singleness for the kingdom, then it is his duty to find a wife. And pronto. The Reformed Baptists put a lot of pressure on young men to marry and marry quick like.

    For me, I was divorced before becoming a Christian (my non-believer wife had an affair and divorced me to continue the affair). The church I went to before the Reformed Baptist church held that there is no remarriage after a divorce, no matter the consequences. When I arrived at the Reformed Baptist church, they told me that not only was my previous church wrong, and that it was okay if I remarry because the divorce was because of adultery, but that since I was free to remarry, I should make it a priority. Such confusing diametric opposition from legalistic churches! 😦

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  103. A Mom: I definitely did this towards the beginning of the unraveling of our relationship. I didn’t want to accept anything that was happening as truth and stayed in denial hoping the problems would go away. I learned that only made things worse, and I stayed in my depressed state until I finally started thinking through some things and finally stopped spending my days crying. This was my first experience with real pain and loss and in the beginning I simply didn’t know how to handle. Thankfully, The Lord has blessed me with wonderful family and friends that counseled me through the grieving. I appreciate the compliments, thoughts, and prayers so much! And as Hannah said, I would greatly appreciate prayers for my former boyfriend as well. Regardless of what he has done I know our situation is very unique, but above all he needs prayers. I haven’t stopped praying for him since the break up for he is still on my heart. As others have said, there is a part of him that always will be.

    Hannah: Thank you so much for the kind words. I definitely want to learn from the mistakes I’ve made and move on instead of repeating the pattern. I pray for wisdom from God to be able to do this. It is so comforting to rest in the fact that everything that happens in my life works to the good of the plan He has for me. I haven’t stopped praying for my former boyfriend since the break up. I really desire for him to be free and much better off than he is now. Just like when I met him, I still admire him as a person, for who he is deep down. I saw a lot of beauty in him when we were together, even though we went through some pretty awful things as well. He simply deserves a much better and happier life than he is been led to believe, and I pray one day he will see himself as worthy enough to save himself from that oppressive world.

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  104. Steve Scott: That’s interesting. I definitely witnessed that from my former boyfriend’s parents. Even though they didn’t like me, there came a point where they really pushed marriage on him, and I think that was simply for the fact that he was in a serious relationship with a girl and we did not have the married status. There was a lot of talk among his group of people when we went public with our relationship and I suspect his parents didn’t like the attention and wanted to hush all the talk by marrying us. Although I will say that throughout our relationship, even when things were pretty bad, he had a different view on the timing of marriage than his parents did. He always told me he was not comfortable with marriage until he was out of college and had his own job and own place to live. He wanted to be a fully independent individual before he got married. I did appreciate him wanting to be financially secure and independent before marriage, which is a completely different concept in the circle he grew up in.

    I can’t even begin to describe to you how confused I still am with people in church groups such as this. They are so inconsistent, flighty, and vague you can never really tell what’s going on. I remember just trying to get to know his family and whenever I would try to talk to his mom just to get to know her, I never got a straight forward answer. Everything was a secret and that drove me nuts since I’m pretty open about who I am and what I believe.

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  105. Bethany,

    I found the same difficulty in getting to know people in the legalistic churches I attended. I think the legalism was so debilitating for them that simply talking was like trying to navigate an obstacle course in a mine field. Every word out of the mouth was intensly scrutinized by every other person. Something as simple as, say, somebody’s favorite flavor of ice cream was difficult to find out. Because, you know, if you have a favorite flavor of ice cream, you’re probably lusting after that flavor, and since lust is a sin, then it’s probably not wise to have a favorite flavor of ice cream. Or at least a favorite flavor that you’re willing to admit to God and man that you have. So asking somebody what their favorite flavor is may end up in a twisted response that gives you no clear idea. It was all about outward appearances and avoiding somebody else making a judgment on what you liked.

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  106. Bridget (22, 9:35am) wrote, “Don’t you think your father went here to ease his own conscience? How else can a father justify the awful things he does to his children in the name of God?”

    Yeah, it was merely a rationalization, but not one I’ve read in other Christian-world survivor tales, although I’ve not read a large number of them.

    I just wonder how his old-school Calvinism helped him find that rationalization. It’s not important, really, but I’m fascinated with how people use theology to rationalize destructive and demeaning systems/actions: what they pick up and leave out, why/how it appeals to others, what about the wretched ideas cause the broader community to not notice, etc.

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  107. Bethany (22, 1:38pm) wrote, “Patrice: After hearing all these stories, including yours, I’m really struggling with being tolerant of people who are extremely controlling.”

    Yah, tolerance has limitations, best understood as an element inside love. We practice tolerance towards those we believe wrong but are correctly intolerant toward those who use power to damage those around them. Our compassion lies with the hurting, and we do what we can to help them again be free to become themselves, as God originally made them.

    Your ex-boyfriend’s parents abused their power over little ones, and that is intolerable. Likely their abusiveness is sourced in a cruel controlling leader, so he is also not to be tolerated. Abusiveness passes through people, so your ex-boyfriend abused his power with you, too, and you were hurt by it—not at all ok.

    The only allowance I give your ex-boyfriend is that he is a brand new adult. There’s a battle being waged inside him and we hope love and liberty will triumph but this particular skirmish was lost. Thus, because of love, I am intolerant of the damage he caused you and sympathetic towards his current position because I remember how painful it was to grow into adulthood when raised in an abusive home.

    Such a damaged person cannot grow up without causing (at least) a little more damage along the way, and that is a terrible truth. Yet, if he eventually sides with truth and love, he will come to terms with these wrongs, too, and you might, someday, unexpectedly, find a letter or a voice message, asking forgiveness from you. I hope it happens!

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  108. “Mark (21, 2:06pm, 3:01pm) Do you have any idea where your ex-pastor got his ideas of suffering (besides the verses themselves)? I mean, was he pulling them out of his back-end or was there some doctrinal treatise from which he drew?
    I ask because my pastor-father had told me throughout my childhood that I was “made for suffering” which, besides being cruel, is plain bizarre. I would like to find a source for it (not sure why, maybe just to give it context?). Your former pastor seems to have a similar mind-set.
    Not that abusive people can’t come up with their own garbage, of course. But I have been relieved to discover that although abuse is various, most of it isn’t at all creative. Abusive people generally walk the same nasty paths—some just go further down it than others.”

    Wow Patrice!!! This is SUCH a great question, especially on a spiritual abuse blog where people come looking to find answers to their “God-ordained?” suffering. I think many reading here have or have had the same question at some point in time. I have wrestled with this question also: Suffering. Why is there suffering? How do you reconcile it? Is it meant to be? Does anyone have a personal obligation to intervene to stop suffering? Is it God approved/ordained? It is a question that sends us on a quest for God, who God is, what type of God each of us believes in, & whether we believe in God or not.

    This question & the answer each one of us has to it, determines quite a bit, IMO. The answer will steer us down certain paths. What we think about suffering will direct our behavior & whether we will accept certain behaviors from others. What we think about suffering will determine what we do & what value we place on ourselves & others.

    I am also curious what others think about suffering. What has helped them to heal? How have they found peace? This question & the answers all of us may have would make a great post in & of itself! 🙂

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  109. A Mom,

    He was vague to say the least of his Doctrine as he only partially admitted his Doctrine, after he was identified as a Calvinist. But he wouldn’t completely admit to that.

    I added the pieces together when one of his very young disciples he was mentoring started taking a correspondence course through Reformed International Theological Seminary and then disclosed it to the Elders who then confronted the Pastor about his stealth Doctrine his response was “how did they find out?”

    The only thing he did admit was he embraced TULIP. Also, on his facebook page, he disclosed taking a correspondence course through Andersonville Theological Seminary throughout his tenure, receiving a correspondence Masters Diploma 6 months after he left our church. (split and broke).

    About a year after he resigned from our church I contacted his former church in Georgia and discussed our former Pastor’s Doctrine. That Pastor said that he caused a split in that church as well. He was covert about his Doctrine there, as well.

    It was indoctrinated in his brain that he needed to endure persecution to find favor with God. The best way for these guys to endure persecution is to fabricate it within the churches they are Pastoring, even if it means deceiving or not disclosing doctrine to their church.

    He and his wife’s treatment of WOMEN (and MEN) who appeared a Doctrinal challenge was vicious, Christmas Programs and Children’s Sunday ended all together..

    We are beginning to show signs of God;s hand as we had our first Program in 5 years (2 years ago he resigned) last night with a 123 people showing up to watch kids and grand kids perform.

    We still have a long way to go, even though we are averaging 30% to 40% more attendees since our former Pastor resigned our numbers are still way down. (about 40 to 45 now attend)

    In truth the best way for a Pastor (or Leader in a Sect) to endure persecution is divide a church simply by avoiding disclosing their beliefs.

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  110. Patrice:

    Bridget (22, 9:35am) wrote, “Don’t you think your father went here to ease his own conscience? How else can a father justify the awful things he does to his children in the name of God?”

    Yeah, it was merely a rationalization, but not one I’ve read in other Christian-world survivor tales, although I’ve not read a large number of them.

    I just wonder how his old-school Calvinism helped him find that rationalization.

    In one word: “IN’SHAL’LAH…”

    Both Calvin & Mohammed were heavily into Predestination. Obviously “the awful things he did to his children” were Willed and Predestined by God before the creation of the world.

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  111. Steve Scott: Ahh that makes sense. So sad and frustrating their lives must be!

    Patrice: That’s a good way to word my feelings towards him and his parents. But particularly him (I have a lot more grace towards him than his parents). I am not ok with the wrongs done against me, but in a way I feel really sorry for him. Less sorry for the parents because they know exactly what they are doing and seem to be ok with mistreating everyone they come into contact with. I feel sorry for my ex because now his parents are giving him so much praise and attention, but he doesn’t realize they are only doing so to get him back under their thumb. He’s really buying into it too. I can see him diverting back to old practices and I’m so saddened by the fact that he doesn’t realize what is being done to him and what he is doing to himself. He’s slowly digging his own grave and his parents are gonna throw him in it.

    I want nothing more than for him to come out on top of this. The unfortunate truth though is that he is so wrapped up in it now I have no idea what it will take for him to decide he wants out. He practically ran back to his parents and away from me. His heart does not seem to be with freedom. And as you said, the only allowance would be if he was a completely new adult. And I mean COMPLETELY. That just doesn’t seem to be very realistic to me, especially with how tied he is to his parents. He’s not able to stand on his own two feet and think independent thoughts. Sad realities and something I hope changes for him in the long run, but this is where he is today.

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  112. A Mom: One part of me being able to heal was recognizing that despite all the suffering I felt through the break up, I know I was a positive influence in the life of my ex and his siblings and friends. I know God used me for good things with the time I had with him. I showed them what it truly looked like to unconditionally love people despite mistreatment. I was also their first taste of someone relatively normal. I do not doubt at all that despite what a lot of those kids were told, they did love me and I loved them. I still miss those siblings today, especially those younger ones who were always so kind to me.

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  113. Mark: It’s so encouraging to hear that your church is in the process of being rebuilt! Prayers are being lifted up for you all!

    Headless Unicorn Guy: Now that’s just scary. Although, I guess I see the sweet deal in a theology like that. Zero accountability. They think “hey, I can be a ‘Christian’ and do whatever I want!”

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  114. Bethany wrote: “The unfortunate truth though is that he is so wrapped up in it now I have no idea what it will take for him to decide he wants out. He practically ran back to his parents and away from me. His heart does not seem to be with freedom.”

    Ach! God gave him such a lovely opportunity via you and your parents. That’s very sad! More pain ahead for him.

    But I am confident that God will give him more chances. I’ve seen it with my sister, who had occasional windows open up for her over the decades. She ignored one after another, but a couple of years ago, she took hold of one and is now slowly winding her way out of the harsh system of our childhood. Damage also spread through her, which is simply depressing, but…well, while there’s breath, there’s hope.

    And after that, when all is said and done, I do trust that God will sort us out in the best possible ways. However that will look.

    If you were my daughter, I would be proud of you, as I’ll bet your parents are. Be well, young lady!

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  115. Bethany:

    Headless Unicorn Guy: Now that’s just scary. Although, I guess I see the sweet deal in a theology like that. Zero accountability. They think “hey, I can be a ‘Christian’ and do whatever I want!”

    That’s one way to put it, but normally that theology emerges as the Arrogance of the Elect (and they KNOW it). Amazing what a Get Out of Hell Free card pre-signed by God can do to your attitude.

    Some years ago, a writer contact of mine moved to Louisville, KY, and spent a short time in a Hyper-Calvinist church. He reported many of the same attitudes that have handicapped Islam through its history, leading me to figure they are side effects of extreme Predestination beliefs:
    1) Passivity and fatalism for the pew-warmer majority — “Whatever happens, happens. Eh, Kismet.”
    2) No brake on ambition for the leader caste — “I Wanna, so God Must Have Predestined It.”
    3) No need for skill or competence — “God will make it succeed.” (This gets especially nasty if you assign tasks opposite the actual competence and skill sets, under the rationale “Then it’s not done In the Flesh.”)
    4) Perfect excuse machine after (2) & (3) blow up — “Not My Fault! God Willed It!”

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  116. Patrice,

    I responded to A Mom much of what you asked @11:41 am 12/23/13 earlier today.

    I forgot to mention before I disclose my former Pastor’s doctrine to the church elder’s, I spent several months praying and agonizing for God’s guidance to find or understand the Pastor’s Methodology.

    Oddly, earlier in his tenure I wrote a specific letter to him explaining my difficulty embracing his “Methodology” using that specific word 3 times and he still refused to disclose. I also inquired about his message of suffering he didn’t disclose.

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  117. Patrice: I’m so sad for him that he will cause himself more pain in the future by doing what he did to me and my parents. He could’ve come with me and made his life a whole lot easier and enjoyable. Sad to see your sister ignore the opportunities for years, but it’s nice to know that she came around one day. I sure hope he doesn’t stay in this for his entire life. Even if he’s 30 or 40 when he finally sees the light, I just hope he does. He doesn’t deserve it and I don’t want him to have a hard and miserable life. Sad to say though that as of now, he doesn’t seem to be interested in any other way of living. All I know is I certainly can’t do it! Thank you!

    Headless Unicorn Guy: That’s a good way to put it. I’m still new to what all this is about and still trying to learn more about it. I know you all are much more knowledgeable on the subject than me! I’ve definitely seen this arrogance, and I can’t stand it.

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  118. Thank you, Mark. That particular slant wasn’t part of the general trad Calvinist culture (at least not the one I grew up in), as it was for a while, part of RC culture: hair shirts, dried peas in shoes, etc. It’s definitely a subversion of doctrine taken on by abusers within the theology.

    HUG, yah, if God had truly made me for suffering, it would certainly have been predestined. Maybe he combined that with some old martyrdom garbage. Ick.

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  119. Bethany’s story is a powerful reminder that the Christian Patriarchy Movement squelches both men and women. That man’s controlling parents, combined with a suffocating ideology, mean that so much of his potential has been suppressed.

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  120. That man’s controlling parents, combined with a suffocating ideology, mean that so much of his potential has been suppressed.”

    Right – and when you’ve never been allowed to make choices for yourself, how do you start as an adult? What a difficult process to undo all of brainwashing.

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  121. Ahab: The sad thing is, over the summer when he was with my family, his potential started to come out. I’m convinced the dad couldn’t stand this, and did everything he could to beat him down. It was like he didn’t want his son to be successful. When he created his own app that is being successfully sold on the app store, I don’t think he even congratulated his son or anything. Now that my ex has gone back to his dad, I don’t know how he’ll get that potential back. His dad will do everything he can to keep him suppressed.

    Julie Anne: What’s sad is I don’t think his parents want him to think for himself as an adult. How can you control and manipulate someone who thinks for himself? I can’t even imagine how you can undo almost 21 years of brainwashing.

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  122. Bethany — With luck, though, maybe a seed has been planted. He knows now that another way of life is possible, so maybe someday he’ll escape the CPM and live life on his own terms. I hope so.

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  123. Ahab: Perhaps. I and my family did show him another, better way to live. That was one of the reasons I was disappointed with his decision to go back to his dad and leave me. He knew better, but I guess his dad never stopped brainwashing him. As I’ve said several times in comments, I want nothing more than for him to be free. It sounds harsh to say that I want him to completely leave his family, beliefs that have been brainwashed in him his whole life, and go to counseling for a long time to deprogram from his horrible childhood, but I know and everyone on here knows that this would be the best thing for him. Still praying for this boy as much as I can. I am so unbelievably angry at his father for how he’s mistreated him and the rest of his siblings.

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  124. I knew a family that was really into homeschooling. The father was a pastor and the mother…how do I put it…it seemed everything was black and white to her….no grey areas in doctrine, TV shows, child rearing, etc. One daughter went to the Bible college her parents chose and found a boyfriend at the Bible college the parents didn’t like and they made sure it was broken off. A couple of years later the same daughter met a divorced man in church and the parents were livid. However, this time the girl married the man and the entire family “shunned” her. It was tragic. I tried to talk to the mother but she could not hear me. Years passed with no contact and the daughter had a baby. One time the mother showed me a photo of the baby a friend had given her. She kept the photo hidden in her wallet, as if she was ashamed to have it and yet so wanting to connect with her grandchild. She told me not to mention the photo to anyone. Again, I tried to persuade her to phone her daughter, and let the past be the past. Her only response was, “She knows my number.” Years passed and I connected with the daughter on Facebook and she and I had some private conversations about healing, forgiveness and family. She wanted to connect with her family but was afraid of rejection. A couple of more years pass and now the father is dying of cancer. I encouraged her again to phone her family….to take a chance on love and forgiveness. Praise God the family reconciled and the daughter was able to bring her own family “back home” and spend time with the dad before he died. God redeemed and healed ….but when I think of all those wasted years because of rejection, with parents not willing to forgive and extend grace and mercy to their children and to allow them to live their own lives. Sadly I have seen this with too many Christian families.

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  125. Been around: That’s so sad! That’s not what God wanted families to be like. I can perfectly relate to the whole black-and-white thing though. That’s exactly how my ex’s parents were. White was right and black was not and in between was not either because it wasn’t white. They were impossible people to deal with. I can’t stand the whole shunning concept. It’s so scarring to these children’s well beings. I hurt for every one involved, whether they see themselves as in trouble or not.

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  126. I am very sympathetic to all of this. This all stems from the family integrated movement and I have been exposed to more of this than I have ever wanted to be. I will say, it has nothing to do with being reformed or Calvinistic. I am both, and most of the Christians I know are also and would never hold to any of the above teachings. The majority of sound, Reformed Baptist leaders would reject it as well. The people involved in the patriarchy movement are a group all of their own whether they are reformed or not. By the way, I have been exposed to more than one church of that belief that is not reformed or Calvinistic.

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  127. Pingback: An Update on Bethany: Almost Trapped in the Christian Patriarchy Movement | Spiritual Sounding Board

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