Tales of Horror:  The Christian Homeschool Movement Promoting Child Brides, Child Abuse, Children Kept in Cages

Tales of Horror: The Christian Homeschool Movement Promoting Child Brides, Child Abuse, Children Kept in Cages

Christian Homeschool Leader Announces Conference for Arranging Child Marriages

This November, in Wichita, Kansas, fundamentalist and conservative evangelical parents will gather at a conference to create betrothals for their marriageable children—with emphasis on the word children. This conference is called Let Them Marry and will be held by fundamentalist writer Vaughn Ohlman. I’ve avoided writing about Ohlman here for a while now, but this conference is so the last straw.

Let me start with how a parent can know if their child is ready to be married off:

1) The ‘youth’ ready for marriage has breasts. A woman who is to be married is one who has breasts; breasts which signal her readiness for marriage, and breasts who promise enjoyment for her husband. (We believe that ‘breasts’ here stand as a symbol for all forms of full secondary sexual characteristics.)

No, this is not satire. That is what it says.

2) The ‘youth’ ready for marriage is ready to bear children. Unlike modern society Scripture sees the woman as a bearer, nurser, and raiser of children. The ‘young woman’ is the woman whose body is physically ready for these things, physically mature enough to handle them without damage.

Okay, hang on a moment here. Girls’ bodies are physically able to have children far before it is fully safe for their bodies to bear children. The United Nations is trying to eradicate child marriage—i.e. the marriage of those under age 18—in part because early and mid-teen female bodies are not truly ready for childbearing. If Ohlman were serious about young women’s bodies being “physically mature enough” to handle childbearing “without damage” he would be telling parents they should not marry off their underage daughters, but he is most emphatically not doing so.

Let’s look further:

The Bible provides many reasons for marriage, and most if not all of them demonstrate that marriage typically ought to happen in the youth (as in, before the age of 20).

Ohlman says young people should get married before they reach age 20, but he’s also not telling parents that means they should encourage their children to marry at age 18 or 19. No, he’s suggesting that those ages are the oldest ages at which young people should marry. The United Nations considers all marriages before age 18 child marriages, and these are just what Ohlman is encouraging with his writings and his conference:

We also quote some old commentators (Calvin, Gill, Luther) who assign particular age ranges to clarify what we should already know to be “youth”. (Seriously, most churches today have “youth groups”, which are for their teenage population.) And we generally agree with these men. John Calvin defines the “flower of her age” (1 Corinthians 7:36) as “from twelve to twenty years of age”. Likewise, John Gill defines it as “one of twelve years and a half old”. And Martin Luther says, “A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen…”

Yes, really. Ohlman does add this:

We do not endorse marriage at ages as young as twelve.

Why quote those writers suggesting age 12 at all, then?

In various articles, Calvin, Gill, and Luther are quoted to support the Biblical view of young marriage. These do also mention an age of 12 as the youngest age, but we use them because they mention the age of 20 as the very latest someone (without the rare gift of celibacy) should marry and that the person would be in active sin as a result; we do not quote them because we believe that twelve year olds are ready for marriage.

Let me explain why quoting Calvin, Gill, and Luther is a bad idea here. Ohlman believes 12 is too young for marriage, but he doesn’t really explain why, and how does he know parents reading his articles, in which he approvingly quotes these writers, will agree with him rather than with these writers? He wants parents to come away thinking “okay, I need to get my kids married off by age 20,” but how does he know they won’t come away thinking “wow, Calvin, Gill, and Luther are well respected and instrumental church writers, they must have been right about this”?

But for Ohlman it’s the magic number 20 that matters, over and over:

[W]e are certainly in agreement with the commentators that marriage (in order to be timely and to accomplish its purposes) ought to happen before the age of twenty for almost everyone.

It just so happens that those who marry before age 20 are more likely to divorce than any other group. I’m sure Vaughn assumes that his children are exempt from this, but he would do well to ask why this group is so likely to divorce. The truth is that teenagers are still finding themselves, still growing into mature, adult individuals, and marrying them off before they’ve found themselves is unwise, because it assumes they’ll grow into people who are compatible, when they can’t know that. Of course, Ohlman is almost certainly against young people “finding themselves” to begin with.

I’ve seen some discussion of whether this event may de facto be a form of sex trafficking, and I do think there is some reason for concern. Consider this:

Bride price: What is it, and why is it important? Wouldn’t a bride price be like selling your daughter? 

A “bride price” is anything paid or given by the man or his representative at the time of his betrothal or receiving his bride.

Scripture certainly teaches about it, but it is not mandated, however, except in the case of a couple of laws. The law concerning bride price (Exodus 22:16-17) indicates that . . . the bride price was a normal part of the marriage process.

The bride price plays a significant function: It shows the woman’s value, and the point isn’t that the father gets the money but that he keeps it for his daughter, if her husband should ever abandon her.

In other words, we’re talking about young men (and their parents) paying the parents of a girl who may be only 15, 16, or 17, a bride price in exchange for receipt of the girl. So let’s ask a question. Does the girl have a choice in this matter?

What if the person objects to the prospective spouse? Is there an opportunity to veto? 

. . .

Considering it is their parents who would be finding them a spouse, what would be their basis for objecting? Looks? How much money they have? Their hobbies or interests? Maybe their personality? All of these things can change and likely will change over the course of a marriage. Even a person’s beliefs may change over time. . . .

Finally, we must understand that a wife (or husband, as the case may be) is a gift. A gift from God first and foremost, and a gift through our parents as representative agents. What should be our attitude about someone who is ungrateful and who rejects a gift they have been given?

Preferences, hopes, and desires are not wrong in and of themselves. Perhaps they should even been actively sought when possible and when appropriate. But it is a problem when we begin to make non-essentials into essentials. . . .

That makes it sound like any girl (or teenage boy) who objects to a match arranged by their parents should be seen as ungrateful and out of line. The amount of pressure to accept such a match, especially at a highly charged and isolated conference such as this will be, will surely be enormous. Where is there any room to object?

What about after the conference? Can a young person back out?

. . . there is no decision to be made once a betrothal is final. There is no approval required or veto allowed.

So that’s a no, then.

And actually, Ohlman goes on further as follows:

Doesn’t a legitimate marriage require the consent of both the people marrying? 

Scripture speaks of the father of the son “taking a wife” for his son, and the father of the bride “giving” her to her husband (Jeremiah 29: 6; Judges 21: 7; Ezra 9:12; Nehemiah 10: 30; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38). It gives example after example of young women being given to young men, without the young woman even being consulted, and often, in some of the most Godly marriages in Scripture, the young man is not consulted.

I really wish this was a joke, I really really do, but it’s not.

How this might look today is this:

A Godly man, raising Godly children, should raise them in such a way that they understand that, in general, the provision of a spouse is something that should come from their father. He should, in his conversations with them, assure himself of their understanding of, and compliance with, this concept. Then, when he has been assured, and when they are of an age where marriage is appropriate for them, he should agree with another father as to their betrothal. Then, in wisdom, he, along with the other father, should again go to his own child to assure himself of their integrity of purpose before announcing their new betrothed spouse to them. Then, the son or daughter, must “consent” to the marriage—but it is very important to realize that this type of “consent” is the kind of obedient consent we see in the examples of Adam, Eve, Isaac, Rebecca, and Christ. It is consent where the son or daughter, realizing that their father has bound them and then submits to the covenant as binding, recognizing the good gift their father has given them.

I cannot even with this.

So, let’s review. Young people should marry before age 20. Girls should have breasts, but not be 12. So probably like at least 15. The betrothal, which happens before the official legal marriage, is binding. This way parents can betroth children who may not yet be legally able to marry in their state. The matches should be arranged by the fathers, and ideally the teenage boy’s father should pay a “bride price” to the teenage girl’s family. The young people in question are expected to accept the matches their parents arrange for them, period and full stop, and there is no reason to consult them in the process—it is their duty to accept the arrangement.

And while we’re at it, the FAQ reads like it was written by someone who spends way too much time thinking about the bodies (and breasts) of underage girls.

I really wish I could just gawk at this, I really do, but I was homeschooled and I knew families who were into things like this. If this had been around when I was a teen, it is very likely that families I knew would have gone—and it is barely possible that my own family might have considered it (though I very much hope they wouldn’t have). These are real people we’re talking about, and the number of fellow homeschool alumni I know who entered into early marriages like these and are now divorced seems to be growing by the month. Need I add that young women typically exit these marriages with little in the way of education, skills, or career prospects?

This is beyond not okay.

 

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/05/christian-homeschool-leader-announces-conference-for-arranging-child-marriages.html#sthash.1pj7lC0p.dpuf

 

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homeschoolersanonymous.org

 

IF SHE BLEEDS, SHE BREEDS: CHRISTIAN HOME SCHOOLERS DEBATE MERITS OF CHILD MARRIAGE

There are reasons to believe that parents are not always capable of choosing what’s in the best interest of their child, and nowhere is that more obvious than the Christian homeschooling movement, where a debate is current broiling over the idea of a minimum age for marriage.

Evidence of a debate first surfaced with a Facebook post made by homeschooling advocate, right-wing whackjob, Christian theocrat, and leader of the Home School Defense League, Michael Farris. However, some researching shows a problem that runs deeper — straight to the rotten core of that entire subculture.

“Seduced by the spirit of anarchy”

Michael Farris made his post over the weekend; in it, Farris expresses government has some uses, and those uses include setting a minimum age for marriage.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Farris is somehow a good guy. Farris’s organization has gone to bat for child abusers in the past. This is a case of the barrel realizing it has no bottom.

In his post, Farris observes that a there was a “recent discussion on a friend’s FB thread” that revealed “a very serious problem that I see surfacing in Christian and conservative circles.” He continued:

Michael-Farris

The issue under discussion was setting the proper minimum age for marriage. The question quickly led to the recitation of the emerging mantra “it should be no business of the government.” So long as parents’ consent, marriage should be lawful at any age—many on this thread contended.

The way we test the propriety of a proposed legal rule is to take the rule to its extreme and see how we like the results. So I asked whether a parent should be permitted to give their permission to allow a 7 year old to be married to a 30 year old pedophile. The legal issue is the same whether or not there is a “dowry” (cash payment) offered by the “bridegroom.”

Though they are exceedingly rare, there are parents who would permit this kind of outrageous transaction. Such a plan is inherently evil and should be punished.

This FB discussion highlighted a growing tendency in the Christian and conservative movement to be seduced by a spirit of anarchy.

Government is instituted by God. We are wise to be very cautious toward government. And it is true that today’s government has far exceeded the bounds of its constitutional and moral authority. But we err if we think that government has no legitimate moral authority to punish parents who do evil.

Government is not the province of angels but anarchy is a tool of the devil.

In response to Farris’s post, one person, named Paul Calvert, said:

Marriage-Age

Why didn’t God give a minimum age for marriage to His people in the Law of Moses? Many Bible teachers will say that Jewish boys became adults at age 13 (this is not in the Bible, I think it is maybe more like Jewish case-law).

Maybe God wants His people (us) to make some judgement calls. Is there a moral difference between getting married at 17 vs 16 vs 15 vs 14 . . .

Many suggest that puberty is the most reasonable minimum age. I can’t find any Biblical principle to argue for or against this.

If God (being fully righteous) chose not to give instructions about a minimum age for marriage, why would we want our government (that is often corrupt) to set a minimum age?

Currently, very young children are allowed to consent to fornication with other children who are close in age, but they are not allowed to get married. I think that sends a pretty bad message. We allow children to consent to fornication (without parental approval) which is inherently evil but we don’t allow them to consent to marriage (with parental approval) which is generally good.

When the government is this out of control, I can see how God fearing people (like Hannah on my post) might suggest that it would be better to simply revoke government jurisdiction in certain areas even though it would allow for some children to be abused.

I don’t have a great answer for this question. But I think it is valuable to consider it and discuss it.

Calvert made a similar post on his Facebook page, which he mentions above. Farris’ post was a response to his, and upon following Calvert to his Facebook page, Libby Anne, the blogger for Love, Joy, Feminism, was able to screen shot some of the responses to Calvert. In them, fellow home school supporters debated the bottom age for child marriage. Their conclusion? Puberty, which they decide is around 13 or 14 years old (precocious puberty, like evolution and dangerous pregnancies, doesn’t exist in their world):

marriage-4

Morris Troglin: I had several women in my lineage that were married at 14 including my grand and great grand mothers. None ever were divorced. Different time, different society.

marriage-5

Josiah Dickens: Legally, the government has no business in making those rules. Logically, I would say any age after puberty that the parents approve of. Obviously parent approval would become obsolete at 18.

marriage-7

Paul Calvert: What is the basis for deciding that 16 is righteous while 13 is positively sinful? People tell me that Jewish boys were considered adults at 13. I realize that this is not the Law that God gave to the Isrealites.

marriage-1

Calvin Byers: After puberty?

Paul Calvert: That sounds like a very logical break-point. But a lot of people would scream blood murder if a 40 year old man married a 12 year old girl who had just reached puberty [Thamiel R: Do youthink?]

marriage-2

E.M. Cavin Jr.: Puberty is the right answer. Culturally, it may not be popular at this particular point in time, but post-modern western culture has set up so many popular ideas about right and wrong that are based simply on fad thinking [Thamiel R: I’ll take postmodern culture over prepaleolithic culture].

A 40 year old man that is established and has run his course in sewing [sic] his wild oats is, in a lot of ways, a much better match for younger ladies than a young man who has yet to move past being daring and impetuous.

marriage-3

Paul Konrad: If she passes the flower of her youth. Scripture seems to allow any age past puberty, and at her fathers [sic] discretion. I would likely do everything within my power, limited by the state, to prevent my children marrying before they were physically, mentally mature and showing faith in Christ and spiritual growth.

The voice expressed by these men (they’re all men, notice that) is one not an alienated one in the Christian homeschooling community, either. This is a problem that runs rampant in that sick and perverse subculture.

A culture of abuse and moral decay

Josh Duggar’s abuse scandal, which broke last month, stems from this same subculture. Duggar’s treatment of his sisters and his parents’ treatment of their daughters, should surprise nobody: this is a subculture that sees women as cattle, no matter how hard Farris may try to deny it.

Earlier this year, at 20 years old, Jennyfer Austin was almost married off to a man older than she was by her Christian fundamentalist parents. While she managed to avoid it, the abuse in her story is not unusual; it came shortly after the story of Alecia Pennington, the woman who was left without any sort of identification because of her Christian fundamentalist homeschooling parents.

Last year, teenage Leelah Alcorn committed suicide by jumping in front of a tractor-trailer. Born Joshua Alcorn, Leelah identified as a woman nonetheless, but her parents — Christian fundamentalists — refused to acknowledge that. Leelah’s parents had taken her out of school and isolated her from social media and her friends. It ended with her suicide.

The stories go on. Some are more horrible than others, but they all have the same theme in common: no government regulation in the homeschooling community.

And until that happens, and the government grows a backbone and stands up to the near cousins of ISIS and the Taliban that exist right here in the United States, these stories are going to keep coming.


Featured image via Progressive Secular Humanist

 

– see more at : http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/weird-news/if-she-bleeds-she-breeds-christian-home-schoolers-debate-merits-of-child-marriage/

 

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Tales of Horror from the Christian Homeschool Movement: Child Brides, Child Abuse, Children Kept in Cages

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Child Marriage and the Rest of the Maranatha Story

Maranatha’s daughter Lauren at her own wedding.

 

Maranatha’s courtship story has been told and retold in homeschooling circles at least since the 1990s, and is held up by many as an ideal. But there’s one thing that is routinely left out of the story. Just how old was Maranatha Owen when she married Matthew Chapman at the culmination of a parent-guided courtship/betrothal process?

There are some Christian homeschooling leaders, Jonathan Lindvall primary among them, who brush these reasons aside and preach the godliness of youthful courtship. Lindvall argues for avoiding the heartache of broken courtship by means of heavy parental control and what he likes to term “betrothals.” If parents help their children find godly partners, love will follow eventually, or so his argument goes. Lindvall and others like him also argue that young people are ready for marriage far earlier than “the world” may recognize, and that waiting rather than marrying young only leads to temptation and the possibility of going astray.

And now we turn to the story of the 1988 betrothal and marriage of Matthew Chapmen and Maranatha Owen. I will begin by summarizing the story as told by Lindvall, and will then answer the question of the couple’s age.

Having began saved at age 19, Matthew Chapman felt led to the ministry. He attended Baylor University’s ministerial program and began serving as a ministerial intern at a large church in Waco, Texas. During this time he began to look for mentorship from an older man at the church, a homeschooling father named Stan Owen. Stan became Matthew’s spiritual father, and the two spent a great deal of time together. In the summer of 1986, Stan began to feel that God had destined Matthew to marry his daughter Maranatha. Without talking to either Matthew, his spiritual son, or Maranatha, his biological daughter, Stan dedicated the two together in marriage in prayer before God.

In early fall of 1986, Matthew confessed to Stan that he was troubled by a strong attraction to Stan’s daughter Maranatha, confessing that he found her “very attractive” and that she had become “a distraction.” “I don’t know what to do about it,” he said.

According to Lindvall’s telling, “Matthew was certain this attraction could not be right since Maranatha was so much younger than he.” “Have you ever considered that this may be a good thing?” Stan asked him in response, “How do you know this isn’t from the Lord?” But Stan went on to tell Matthew that Maranatha wasn’t ready for marriage yet, and that he therefore needed to put a hold on his feelings for a while. Matthew continued to be a frequent guest in Stan’s home, constantly in contact with Maranatha and the rest of the family, but was forbidden to tell Maranatha about his feelings or have any physical contact with her.

Shortly after this Maranatha told her father that she had “an interest” in Matthew. As time went by Maranatha found her “attraction” to Matthew “increasingly distracting.” She told her father about her crush as she had been taught to do. Stan told Maranatha that she needed to “keep her heart pure and focused on the Lord” and to “wholly give herself to the Lord without any lingering desire for Matthew.” And Maranatha obediently sought to do just that. Of course, Stan had already decided to give Maranatha to Matthew, so this was simply a matter of biding his time until he decided Maranatha was ready.

A year later, in early fall of 1987, Matthew felt that God had told him by direct communication that he, Matthew, was to marry Maranatha. Matthew shared with his mentor what God had told him, and asked permission to propose to Maranatha. Stan confirmed that the thoughts may well have been from God, but asked Matthew to wait a little longer, promising to share when he had heard from God himself.

Several months went by and Christmas arrived. Stan’s Christmas present to Matthew was a Christmas card with the words “This year for Christmas, I am going to give you the greatest gift I could ever give you” on the front. Inside was a photograph of Maranatha. There were also instructions: “On January 1st, you may ask Maranatha to marry you.” The instructions stated, however, that while Matthew and Maranatha could become engaged Stan would not give Maranatha to Matthew until he determined she was ready, which might be months or years. Matthew proposed and Maranatha accepted.

Stan wanted to do things as they were done in the Bible, when betrothal was legally binding. Therefore, on February 22, 1988, just over a month after Matthew’s proposal and Maranatha’s acceptance, the two were legally married at the courthouse. Maranatha continued to live in her father’s home until her official “wedding” day, which, although she was already legally married, would be when she would begin her married life.

The summer of 1988, Stan decided that Maranatha was ready. In the six or so months since Matthew’s proposal and Maranatha’s acceptance, Matthew had prepared a home for them to live in and Maranatha had sewed a wedding dress. After dinner one day, Stan unexpectedly and without prior warning informed Matthew and Maranatha that the time was fast approaching. But Stan wanted to reenact the Biblical story of Jesus as bridegroom and the Church as his bride, so he did not give either Matthew or Maranatha a date.

Immediately after Stan’s surprise announcement, Maranatha was taken by her family members to the home of another Christian family. There Maranatha waited for Matthew to come and claim her. Every day between 3 pm and midnight she dressed in her wedding dress and sat with her suitcase, waiting. Finally, at long last, Stan told Matthew that the day had arrived, and Matthew came to the house where Maranatha was staying, claimed her, and took her to a surprise wedding feast Stan had prepared, complete with guests, singing, and dancing. The couple then left on their honeymoon and began their married life.

So now let’s talk ages. When Matthew first expressed his interest in Maranatha—interest Stan affirmed as from God but asked Matthew to put on hold—Maranatha was 13 and Matthew was 26. When Matthew heard from God that he was to marry Maranatha, and begged Stan to let him propose marriage to her, Maranatha was 14 and Matthew was 27. When Stan gave Matthew the go ahead to propose to his daughter, Maranatha was 15 and Matthew was 27. They were the same ages when they married just over a month later, and when Maranatha left her father’s home and the couple began their married life together Maranatha was 15 and Matthew was 28.

The original story doesn’t include any ages at all. I suspect that Lindvall and others felt these ages were appropriate, but were concerned that some might be put off by the idea of a 15-year-old girl marrying a 27-year-old man. I found the ages by looking them up on public record. They’re not available on the internet or in print otherwise.

Marrying girls off so early does several things. For one thing, it precludes them having other options. They have not finished their academic education and are not qualified for anything besides homemaking. And even then, what fifteen-year-old is truly ready to run a home in today’s world? For another thing, such early marriage means a girl marries before she has time to completely mature and form her own outlook on life. But then, sadly, that’s rather part of the point. This sort of arrangement, after all, functions not as an independent adult making her own decisions but rather as a property transfer—and it is explicitly stated as such.

Matthew wrote this in an article titled Thoughts on Betrothal (15 Years Later):

I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?! I’ll tell you what though, having a wife with a heart like that makes you all the more want to seek the Lord and lead her faithfully.

Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.

Matthew says that homeschooled girls mature quickly. While I’m sure there are some homeschooled girls for whom this is true, I know the sort of homeschooled girls he’s talking about—they’re the ones raised to care for big families, cook, clean, and take care of babies, wear long dresses, practice submission, and learn a modest temperament. Maturity isn’t the ability to make a pie or change a diaper. Maturity isn’t the ability to quote a Bible verse or stay silent rather than gushing over the latest fad. And while we’re at it, running a home in today’s world takes more than knowledge of cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

Let me take a moment to address two objections I’ve seen raised. First, it is true that many girls in mainstream society date as early as 14. However, the courtship or betrothal process is closer to actual literal wedding planning than it is to dating. Courtship and betrothal are quite literally about getting married, and not at some nebulous time in the future but now. Second, it is true that it used to be more common for women to marry younger, even as young as 15. However, it was never as common to marry so young as we tend to think it was looking back (in fact, there are entire historical periods where people married just as late as we do today), and besides, the world today is not the same as the world of the past. Average age of marriage is generally a result of societal and economic factors that actually, like, matter.

Maranatha’s story is an extreme, yes, but it is not the only one of its kind. In 2008, only weeks after turning 16, Maranatha’s daughter Lauren married a man who was 26, a man who had already been interested in her for several years. And I’ve been hearing other stories too, stories of courtships begun at age 14 and marriages entered into at 16 or 17. Right now, my heart is sad for girls married off before they have the time to live, to learn who they are, to forge their own beliefs and outlook on life—girls married off so early other options are severely limited, and in such a patriarchal setting that even consent is curtailed.

In case you’re wondering, Matthew and Maranatha were married in Texas. The law in that state requires parental permission for marriages involving those who are 16 or 17, and a special court dispensation for marriages involving those under 16. I suspect that the law was different in 1988, and that this is the reason Maranatha’s daughter Lauren married immediately after turning 16 rather than before. Edit: It appears that Texas changed the marriage age with parental consent from 14 to 16 in 2005 in response to the activities of the FLDS sect moving into Texas and practicing both child marriage and polygamy, and that this explains why Maranatha was able to marry at age 15 while her daughter Lauren had to wait until she turned 16 to wed. Thanks to a reader for the info!

 

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/12/the-rest-of-the-maranatha-story.html#sthash.oJdgLvzv.dpuf

 

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That Christian Man Selling Child-Training Whips Is Back

The above image is an advertisement that used to run in Christian homeschool magazines. “The ideal tool for child training,” reads the test below an image of a long, thin shaft with a handle, a rod intended for whipping children. “The means prescribed by God,” it reads. And there’s a poem: “Spoons are for cooking / Belts are for holding up pants / Hands are for loving / RODS are for chastening.” This “flexible nylon rod” with its “cushioned vinyl grip” was marketed by Steve Haymond, and was primarily purchased by Christian homeschooling families.

By 2006, the internet and the activism of several concerned homeschool parents had taken its tole on Haymond’s whip-selling business. Raymond had advertised his whips in Christian homeschooling magazines for years (see the image above), and had also begun advertising on the internet. But as the public caught wind of Haymond’s business, things went south. Under mounting pressure, Haymond shut the business down. In the years since, his rods have been used in several high-profile child abuse cases, and young adults who were beaten with his rods have spoken out. But today, Haymond is back—and he doesn’t want you to know.

A guest on podcaster Phil Ferguson‘s show recently provided him with a letter from Haymond announcing that he was starting his business back up, with newly designed rods, but asking that that information not be shared with the internet. Ferguson promptly posted the letter to Facebook. “Let’s show him how the internet works,” Ferguson wrote on his posting. “Please share.”

Here is a transcription of the letter:

April 7, 2016

Dear friends,

I am contacting you as a former customer of Child Training Resources. As you may know, we stopped selling our chastening instruments and closed our business in 2006 due to external pressures and family reasons. Since that time and after 10 years of periodic request sand inquiries, we have decided to again making these chastening instruments available — but only on a private basis and without a web site or ANY internet exposure.

To jog your memory or for those of you unfamiliar with our instrument, the blue spanker is 9” long, 1.5” wide and 3/16” thick. Made of virtually indestructible polyurethane, it is extremely flexible and quite portable (easily fits in a purse, back pocket or diaper bag).

[price, shipping, and payment instructions]

One more I’m,portent thing. Feel free to let other Biblically-minded parents know about this chastening instrument, but do not post anything about it on the internet and please exercise discretion as to who you tell about them. Although proper chastisement is legal, there are some (even among family members) who mistakenly believe that spanking of any kind constitutes child abuse. Our willingness and ability to make these instruments available to parents who believe in Biblical chastisement depends both on their responsible use by us as parents (see our tips) and care in who we tell about them. Thank you for your sensitivity on this.

[closing and signature]

There’s a sort of perverse pleasure to seeing people who think they can keep the ethically sketchy things they’re doing off the internet find out it doesn’t work like that. But you know what? This story has to be about more than that. It has to be about more than laughing at Haymond, and sharing the story on your Facebook with something about how stupid people like him are to think they can hide things from the internet. It has to be more, because I was that child. 

I was a child when putting advertisements for whips in Christian homeschool magazines was a thing. My own homeschool mother used a wooden paddle, and liberally. The homeschool child rearing guru she followed advised using quarter inch plumbing supply line. At one point someone convinced my mother that she should spank us with rods we cut from the trees outside; she soon found that this approach drew blood, however, and returned to her ever-handy paddle. It may be hard to fathom, for some, but the debate over what implement should be used for beating one’s children into obedience was quite active in the Christian homeschool community of my youth. But it wasn’t just a debate—it was a business.

Haymond was never the only person selling whipping rods. As I remember it, you could walk into just about any Christian homeschool convention in the country and purchase implements for beating your children. I’m not sure whether this is still true, ten years after I left home for college, but I did go to a Christian homeschool convention several years ago, and guess who was there? One of Michael and Debi Pearl’s children, selling his child abuse manual. And yes, I think I can call it that—it’s all right there in his book, down to breaking children and beating them into complete and total submission, and much more.

The books, the implements, the conferences, the workshops. An entire industry has been built around helping parents beat their children into submission, and while Haymond may have shut his business down for a decade, Michael Pearl never did—and nor did many, many, many others. Some children have died, and many others have come of age haunted by a childhood spent in fear of an implement, of a hand, of a moment, the complete and immediate obedience whipped into them during childhood forever warping their adult interactions with their parents—if they decide to continue those interactions at all.

This story isn’t a funny read, or a punchline. It’s a travesty.

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/05/that-christian-man-selling-child-training-whips-is-back.html#sthash.C9z33uh7.dpuf

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