Monday, April 21, 2014

On Patriarchy, Scandal, Abuse... and Grace

My 10 children and two not-picture-happy grandsons
(and two more grandsons yet to be born)
in an impromptu family photo on Easter 2014
Dear friends,

My heart is very weary these days reading stories about scandal in churches, religious organizations, and families. So much going on, and nothing really surprises me anymore. For years, I have been researching abuse of spiritual authority. On the one hand, I am glad that darkness is being brought to light and families are being released from bondage of many sorts. Still, I am saddened to hear of all who have been so wounded by errant religious leaders who preached what they did not practice. 

So many of my loved ones have been hurt, especially by the patriarchy movement that has been popular among large home schooling families like mine. This hits way too close to home. I also get lot of e-mails from people who read my blogs, and I can tell you, the damage is deep and wide. I grieve.

My angst is not just about the allegations of sexual misconduct. It is about legalistic and hypocritical teaching that has destroyed families.  It's not just Doug Phillips, but men like Bill Gothard, Doug Wilson, C.J. Mahaney, and Mark Driscoll. I greatly respected them, even put them on pedestals. I regret that now. I sincerely apologize to any of you who started following their teaching because of anything I wrote. At the bottom of this post, there is a whole slew of links for you on some of the problems caused by patriarchal leaders and organizations. This is just a fraction of what is out there.

I love Jesus. I love people. This is not about gossiping or being bitter or judgmental. It is about setting people free and helping them move toward wholeness. I hate authoritarian abuse. I hate religious legalism. I hate the hypocrisy of those who vehemently preach one thing and flagrantly practice the opposite. Yet I was part of this, to a certain extent, even if mainly by association. I am a mother of 10 who became an eager participant in the full quiver / home education movement over 25 years ago after reading Mary Pride's books. This was my life. I read about it, tried to live it, promoted it. I love my 10 kids. I love home schooling. That is not the problem. It's how I did it because of who I allowed to influence me.  I am so sorry for the damage that my own children suffered because of this. I am so grateful, by the grace of God, that we are all still very close, and that everyone is somehow pulling through in their own ways. I've heard some of them say, "We're not doing everything quite the way you did," and I, with relief, say, "That's a very good thing!"

We still have a long way to go. I woke on Easter morning with so much on my mind, so many struggles and failures and unmet expectations. On top of my troubled thoughts, I hadn't slept well and I still had so much to do before family came over in the afternoon. I usually fix a decent Easter breakfast with eggs and such, but yesterday, I was so overwhelmed that I just didn't.  I was all "pickles and prickles" as we got ready for church. In the van, I realized that none of my five younger children had even taken the time to grab a bowl of cereal. (Oh, bad Mommy! Wait. Not! That one's on them, and they didn't even care about it! It's a good thing our church sets out granola bars...) Such a small thing among the bigger ones.  

In the midst of my Easter fluster, I appreciated my pastor reminding us that we still live in a fallen "Good Friday" world, and that we need the resurrection story every day. I know I do! I was also glad to hear him affirm how much Jesus did to overthrow patriarchal attitudes toward women by welcoming them into his ministry and opposing those who tried to oppress them. When he rose from the dead, he called Mary Magdalene by name and sent her out as the first witness of his resurrection in a culture which did not even allow the testimony of a woman in court. Jesus valued women. He values me. He values you, whether you are male or female, old or young, rich or poor, weak or strong... 

Please, dear sisters and brothers, if you are reading this, wherever you are, whatever has happened or is happening in your life, please find your grace and liberty and healing. There may be some things that you need to let go and other things you need to embrace. It is sometimes crazy scary, but it will be worth it.

If you like what you see in this post, considering subscribing to this blog using subscribe options in the sidebar.

Finally, here are some general links from my blogs, and then some about Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard on other sites.

On my blogs:

Other blogs and news sites...


  1. Thank you Virginia for putting this all together. These are terrible things that are happening and it is very upsetting.

  2. I want to thank you for taking the time to put this into writing. I've had thoughts on this topic bouncing in my own head for weeks (haven't we all?) and am blessed to know that I am not alone.

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