Monday, March 9, 2009

PART II: Multigenerational Faithfulness? A Darwinian, Works-Based Salvation

PART II of a collection of posts from a series about
Multigenerational Faithfulness
that originally appeared on the Under Much Grace Blog


Return of the Daughters,

Multigenerational Faithfulness and Uncle Ned

I take for granted that those who have linked over to this website for the first time will be familiar with the Vision Forum teachings that support multigenerational faithfulness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Vision Forum teachings regarding women and since I've referenced their importance in these most recent posts, I will offer this very brief overview of the teachings about following the family patriarch as well as the eldest male within one's extended family, a vital part of the multigenerational faithfulness concept. Please note that since criticism of the ideology, Vision Forum has re-written some of their history. They once prohibited voting for women, but apparently all of the advocates of this teaching have been voting all along. If you find that interesting, you can read more about it HERE and HERE. In the event that other documentation should disappear in the future, copy the links and go to the internet archive’s “Wayback Machine” to enter them in order to find them. Like the teachings on voting and engagements and courtships and such, things have a nasty habit of disappearing from the patriarchy websites.

Botkin’s Teachings
on Daughters and Wives

I have not discussed the Botkin gender material here in some time, so for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the book “So Much More,” (or the "Return of the Daughters" video) I will review some of the concepts taught in this book by the then teen daughters of Geoff Botkin. (Link HERE to read about Geoff Botkin’s history in a Bible-based cult just prior to his appearance at Vision Forum.) One can also glean a great deal of these teachings from the Botkin Daughters website, but in a nutshell, the belief system maintains that young women remain the “helpmeets” of their fathers until they are given in marriage. Until responsibility is handed off to the new husband, the young woman must serve the vision of the father. All of her endeavors must further the father’s vision in some way by aiding him in his life’s work. All members serve the family patriarch (the husband/father), and their life purposes revolve around the father like planets resolve around the sun in our solar system. If a young woman has her own endeavors, those activities must still accommodate the father’s needs and must somehow serve to help him fulfill his “kingdom mandate.” Any activity that seemingly does not meet an obvious need of the patriarch must be pre-approved by the father.

Other resources concerning this view can be found via these links:

Vision Forum’s Teachings
About Wives and Daughters

I encourage you to read this entire article about Vision Forum, as it presents a good overview of the many problems with these teachings. I have pulled out several quotes from this 2007 article from Midwest Christian Outreach, a counter-cult apologetics organization.

From "Who Will Be First In the Kingdom?":
But according to the Vision Forum, women really cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands:

"The lies which tell us we should be independent from our parents and out from under their authority, training for a career or looking for our ministry outside of the context of our home and family. [sic] But Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death…” There is liberty in submitting to your father. Don’t let your heart be taken captive by the independent spirit of feminism. We as daughters are not sufficient to guard our hearts—God has placed us under the authority of our fathers to protect our hearts… So I encourage you—give your heart fully to the Lord Jesus Christ and to your father (or if you are married, to your husband) and be under his authority."
(From an article by Sarah Zes)

Unless a daughter marries, she functionally remains pretty much the property of the father until he dies:

"Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection."
(From The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy)

Women should not go to college. Such a pursuit is a waste of time and money:

"And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?"
(From Brian Abshire’s article available HERE, though it no longer appears on Vision Forum Minsitries website.)

[. . .]

It is true the patriarchs were rulers. Not all males were patriarchs, nor did they have the opportunity to become patriarchs. Patriarchs were tribal chieftains. The patriarchal father would typically pass his position of patriarch to his firstborn son. We have instances in Scripture where the family headship was passed to the second born, but the effect was the same. All of the relatives became, in effect, his servants and property. We see an example of this in Genesis 27 when Jacob deceived Isaac into giving him the patriarchal blessing that naturally would have been passed on to his firstborn brother, Esau. The result and full import of what this meant is spelled out by Isaac in Genesis 27:37:

"But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” (NASB)

Sorrowfully, Isaac let Esau know that his hands were tied. The mantle of rulership had been passed on and now all of Jacob’s relatives, aunts, uncles, brother’s sisters, cousins, etc., including Esau, are to be Jacob’s slaves, Jacob’s property. The point is Vision Forum isn’t going far enough if their objective is to embrace Old Testament patriarchy! If they want patriarchy, they cannot simply pick and choose which elements they wish to leave out. Are tribal fiefdoms really supposed to be the pattern for the Church? Forget about wives submitting to husbands—all our relatives have to submit to Uncle Ned!

Link HERE to read the full article by Don and Joy Veinot, well worth the effort.

Life Micromanagement by the Eldest Male
in Multigenerational Faithfulness

Click to enlarge.
Well, there you have it: a brief overview of the Vision Forum ideal that guides the unwritten rules that Vision Forum followers observe. Some of these practices never get documented, so the concept of submitting to the eldest family patriarch may or may not get documented. (Spiritually abusive systems thrive on the unwritten rules and unbreakable codes of conduct that are enforced through positive and negative reinforcement, etc.) Many families follow this “eldest resident patriarch” concept, and it presents some interesting dilemmas and practical problems for young married couples. Because of gender, a new bride should submit to her husband, but per the recycled teachings of Shepherding and Bill Gothard, the groom (an adult, mind you) must observe and submit to his own parents. (A more current example of this practice can be found by reading Scott Brown's NCFIC Internship Application -- formerly John Thompson's and Doug Phillips' NCFIC -- wherein a young man may only participate with the full approval and blessing of his parents.) A young bride’s parents have no real say in the matter which can and does create some dilemmas, for as Bill Einwechter puts it in his sermon on multigenerational faithfulness, marriage advances the groom’s family:
Sons and daughters differ according to Einwechter and the "continuity of history" of name and family extends only through sons. Einwechter states that multigenerational faithfulness works differently for daughters because a daughter no longer carries on her own family’s heritage or work within her new marriage. She serves her new husband’s family name and “his covenant,” so their marriage allows the husband to “extend his influence into other families.” Daughters are the “dynamic means” whereby men extend their name and heritage “into other covenantal family units,” or more specifically as Einwechter implies, into her own family of origin. The man “extends the covenant” of his own fathers through marriage. “Daughters are not dead ends . . . Faithful families must work together to give their sons and daughters to one another in marriage.” He also explains that multigenerational faithfulness cannot be limited to simply training our children but should include “the goal of giving them in marriage to other well-trained children from godly homes.”
(From my previous post quoting the lecture.)

And don’t forget Geoff Botkin’s focus in the 200 Year Plan which seems to place priority in men:
Each one of my children has roughly 156,000 MALE descendants. And that’s a lot of people to be applied to the works of righteousness we have laid out today.
(emphasis mine)

I could pull out more information, but frankly, it’s just too depressing. You need not look very far to find such examples.... But I had not specifically pointed out this particular aspect of multigenerational faithfulness in this recent discussion. The topic called for a fresh overview.

Much thanks to my husband but especially to the several moms, the best counselors, who shared their sage perspectives with me as I sorted through these particular aspects of multigenerational faithfulness.
Thank you for lending me the benefits of your insights and experiences. Thank you for giving both words and clarity to my inarticulate thoughts.
God bless you all abundantly for sharing your wisdom with me.

Because of the Gothard influence of ecclesiocentricity within Vision Forum’s theology and practice (more in practice in participating churches than in documented theory), multigenerational faithfulness also revolves around submission to elders among adults of all ages, but it is also extended to children under their idolatry of family. Vision Forum essentially just takes Bill Gothard’s teachings to greater extremes, but very little of it offers something new. The only new aspects of these “new ideas” are the loaded language phrases and “wonder word” concepts that the masters of spin wrap around the same old concepts of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement in order to sell it via a new packaging. The manipulators merely took multigenerational faithfulness and wrapped it around the old submission doctrine product like a clever new design on colorful paper packaging that boasts “new and improved” or “50% more.” The practice of old-fashioned submission doctrine is alive and well, even within the emergent church movement, evidenced in the error of “sinning through questioning.” This unquestioned submission to authority dulls critical thinking and is an highly desirable trait in followers of authoritarian and spiritually abusive groups (at least, according to the leaders of those groups).

I’ve been contacted by several people who have asked many questions about my thoughts on Voddie Baucham’s teachings regarding “First Time Obedience” (FTO). Technically, “First or Single Time Discipline” describes a more accurate concept since FTO would require omniscience. There is a “First Time Transgression” wherein a child learns obedience and is given grace only once. As an essential component of multigenerational faithfulness, I would like to examine these concepts again.

I believe that multigenerational faithfulness requires a high degree of “equal opportunity submission” (all age groups) under a preferred authoritarian leadership style, well noted and typified in Dr. Voddie Baucham’s book entitled “Family Driven Faith.” Though I agree with some isolated elements and find some of what he has to say quite valuable, I take issue with very many aspects of it. I also don’t come to the same conclusions that he does because I do not share all of his presuppositions. I’m going to quote some of the things that I find more problematic, though there are many points and conclusions with which I agree in the text. For me, that makes the whole work and message far more troubling ideologically and theologically.

In context, Baucham breaks “Discipline and Training” down into components to be expected of children (and training is so directed) that I have also heard discussed in audio sermons: 1) Do What They Are Told; 2) Do It When They Are Told; 3) Do It With a Respectful Attitude. His numerous audio sermons cover this same basic content as outlined in his book. There is some variation however, wherein Baucham (between these different venues) changes examples of behavior of a two year old sticking out one’s tongue at an adult to an example used interchangeably with shy, avoidant behavior suggestive of fearfulness in a two year old. Baucham handles both examples as morally similar if not identical, both stemming from the same core sin issues – that which ultimately qualifies as willful rebellion over which a two year old should have mastery.

From "Family Driven Faith," Pages 109 - 110:
What this means is the degree to which children properly respond to the authority of their parents is indicative of the degree to which they are filled with the Spirit. In other words, obedience is a spiritual issue...

You tell your two-year-old to do something in front of the pastor’s wife and she sticks out her tongue yells “no,” and takes off running in the other direction... Eventually you learn that everyone is willing to accept this behavior, or at least to make comments that suggest their acceptance.

The only problem with this scenario is that it clearly violates the principles laid out in God’s Word. It is not OK for our toddlers to be characterized by rank disobedience. Moreover, if we do not deal with this when they are toddlers, our children will grow up to be disobedient, disrespectful, obnoxious teens whom no one wants to be around. More importantly, they will have established a behavior pattern that mitigates against the Spirit-filled life. Remember, a young man or woman who is filled with the Spirit will be marked by obedience to his or her parents...

First, I agree that parents do tolerate far too much unacceptable behavior (sticking out one’s tongue or other rude and disrespectful displays). I wholeheartedly agree that letting children (or encouraging children) to engage in rude, disrespectful behavior as a toddler encourages “rank disobedience” later in life. Yet how appropriate is it for an adult to put a small child into a situation wherein the adult expects the child to behave like a rational adult, capable of demonstrating the emotional control of an adult? I think that reasonable tears of fear/hiding one’s face in shy behavior demonstrates an appropriate response under certain circumstances, and the intolerable sticking out one’s tongue are two very separate issues. These indicate (or can indicate) two very different emotional states within a child. Children’s honest, non-pretentious and unbridled emotion become both their great fault and their great charm, and I believe that the delightful lack of pretense explains exactly why Jesus delighted in children. As they learn self-discipline, appropriate behavior, and boundaries from adults, children should also learn that their God-given emotions serve them as most precious gifts of childhood to proclaim strength and perfect praise in order to defeat threats and silence enemies (or to counter provoked anger).

Emotions should be heeded by adults as they are valuable information when felt or expressed by children and adults alike. In a discussion of this passage from Baucham’s book, a wise mother reminded me of the conventional wisdom that children often “instinctively know who to fear and who to trust” precisely because they remain largely unaffected by pretense. Fear is not a sin in a two year old, and fear can sometimes manifest as anger or as shyness. Even adults run to the Rock of our Salvation and hide in the clefts as the adult and valiant warrior Psalmist often did. We trust under the feathers of God and find solace in His shield and buckler when we are afraid, even crying out to our Heavenly Father. Why would this similar behavior be inappropriate for a two year old? Does God greet us with love, comfort and protection when we run to Him, or does He punish us for our overwhelming emotions of fear, woundedness and helplessness? Any adult who puts a child into a position where the child is expected to demonstrate the mastery of an adult or beyond that of the Psalmist of Old behaves inappropriately. The parent manifests far more fault than the child in such a circumstance.

I am also confused about what Baucham argues here regarding the apparent the virtues of a two year old, wondering how a totally depraved creature who has not yet come to faith in Christ with understanding and credulity can also be filled with the Spirit as evidenced by desirable behavior as a manifestation of willful choice. Does Dr. Baucham believe that good behavior always indicates the manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit? Can’t an unbeliever who has been conditioned with behavioral consistency and techniques of “child training” manifest good behavior, or can’t good behavior be feigned apart from the work of the Spirit? Cannot and do not unbelievers, consummate examples of “the good person,” raise respectful, polite and obedient children? How does one differentiate this “deceitful feigning” of good behavior from the miraculous manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit, all prior to the child’s mature and willful faith in Christ with understanding of the atonement?

This touches on some tension between the Dispensational “age of accountability” typically understood in Baptist circles, the Total Depravity of the Reformed faith, hints of innocence in covenant children by virtue of their election as found in the Westminster Confession, and for some more modern/aberrant patriocentrists, something akin to paedobaptismal regeneration. I’m unclear as to what exactly he means to communicate. Baucham seems to draw elements from a model of “Child Training” (versus child raising) akin to the Pearls and the Ezzos which actually argues a very Darwinian view of eliciting good behavior (like training mules according to Michael Pearl). Baucham seems to want to borrow from both Total Depravity and a divine manifestation of spiritual virtue at the same time without conflict. In so doing, Baucham argues a works-based and salvation evidenced by comparison and perfectionism. The question remains: How does one differentiate between good works in an elect two year old, deceitfully manipulative good behavior in a two year old who pretends to manifest the Holy Spirit, a well-trained two year old who is non-elect, a two year old with a delightful disposition, and a child who has been raised to be sensitive to the Lord thorough loving, “one-anothering” parenting (the true covenant child). A two year old knows well the difference between attrition and contrition, and all this apart from election. In fact, they may be more sensitive to it than an adult.

From Page 110:
Bridget and I learned the hard way with our firstborn. We were inconsistent with her as a toddler, and we had a mess on our hands. By the time she was ten we had to go back and completely retrain her. We simply didn’t know there was a better way. No one had ever taught us the importance of this biblical mandate.

No one enjoys the frustration of a child’s active bad behavior or making unsuccessful attempts to stop a child from behaving inappropriately. And I agree that behavioral problems manifest as a result of training a toddler inconsistently. But we also run the risk of provoking children to anger with authoritarian perfectionism when they are incapable of performing, either due to immaturity, parental factors, or their own inherent shortcomings of personality. Sometimes, some acting out results directly from being provoked to anger. Negative reinforcement and authoritarianism consistently yield erratic behavior in countless controlled, anecdotal and historical studies of adults, children and even in animals. Such provocation can lead to what has been coined as the “Botkin Syndrome” or results in the outcomes described by the “Quivering Daughters,” those young women who have been pushed too far by perfectionistic, authoritarian demands. It can also create “learned helplessness,” a pervasive, almost nihilistic hopelessness as a character trait that hinders rather than facilitates spiritual maturity in the Word of God.

Dare I ask online again as I have in a previous blog post: “How does one ‘completely retrain’ a ten year old?” COMPLETELY? This differs dramatically from “I was wrong – a very imperfect parent – but by the grace of God, I rejoice in the goodness that I do see in my daughter’s life... And by God’s grace, rather than doing the wrong thing for 10 years, I will not do the wrong thing for 10 years plus one more day.”

When asking friends who have no idea about the source of the reference, in response to my question of “How do you completely retrain a ten year old?” most people (when done chuckling) have immediately responded with either “You cannot,” or they only partially-in-jest suggest some type of torture, often involving depravation of food and water. (And I am reminded of Robin Phillips' book wherein he cites an example of how Jonathan Lindvall recommends just such a course of action regarding someone else's adult daughter who will not do as the parent pleases.) I am disturbed by the absolute, all-or-nothing certainty with which Baucham can go back into the past to erase his own error, laying blame on his child as “completely” flawed in a manner that seems to admit his fault but actually diverts it to his daughter. He’s not only so confident about assurance of the past concerning his own children, he is also quite zealous to share his authoritarian (albeit yet unproven) techniques with thousands upon thousands of others?

I must also ask why Baucham’s technique of first time obedience represents not only the better way but seemingly the only acceptable way offered for dutifully raising all children under all conditions? Baucham’s way is THE Biblical mandate. His comment reflects the other sentiments in the book such as his statement that the Family Integrated Church (FIC) is THE Biblical mandate and that alternatives to the FIC are “less Biblical,” whatever “less Biblical” hopes to imply through connotation. Is “less Biblical” like being “less pregnant” or “less moral?”

First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission

as an Essential Component of Multigenerational Faithfulness Part I:

In this previous post, I alluded to Mark Driscoll’s quote in the New York Times which spoke of his “impatience for dissent” (as the article’s author noted), drawing particular attention to this comment: “They are sinning through questioning.” His comment marks a trend in the church, and one that has always been an element as long as men have been overseeing groups of people. I would like to blame it all on somewhat recent trends within the church as there have certainly been many where believers have focused on one aspect of the Gospel or another to a fault. Like stinking swamps that feed off of a river that flows with life and is teeming with life, there have always been pockets of the church that become isolated in unbalanced focus of irrelevance and stagnation. The leaders seek to preserve what was likely a singularly ideal moment in time in what God was doing in the past. These attempts to preserve what promises to be an utopian oasis of the past always seem to degrade into a system of sacerdotalism, the collectivistic manifestation of the works of the flesh.

Along with sarcedotalism, part of maintaining the utopian vision of the past involves submission as an act of humility which requires the suspension of credulity. If a required task involves doubt, all expression of that doubt must be sacrificed and yielded to God on the altar of humility, as any expression or indulgence of reasonable, rational incredulity becomes an expression of rebellious sin. One must follow the system of sacerdotalism, crucifying all rational doubts by putting unquestioned faith in one’s overseer or personal priest. On the Bill Gothard Discussion List (Yahoo Group), someone once described the test of devotion required by young men at what is known as Gothard’s “Northwoods Coumpound” that I believe is located in Wisconsin. The facility required young men to go outdoors in intense summer heat to sweep the paved roadway with brooms, all while wearing their regulation Gothard blue blazers and red ties. For one of these young men to suggest that their service might be better spent doing something more productive with a more pragmatic value (even weeding a garden, for example which would still subject them to the trial of the summer heat) would be seen as rebellion against God Himself which thwarts one’s efforts to accumulate grace. Effectively, based upon Gothard’s bizarre redefinition of grace, the game of life requires that Christians earn and accumulate grace (favor and a type of power to resist sin merited by good works), especially through acts of humility that require the suspension of reason as a leap of faith.

Following from the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement, since patriocentrics espouse this sacerdotalism, it gives to reason that they would dutifully train their children in this same mindset. Their patriarchal system depends upon it, particularly in the home. Ephesians 5:21, the submitting to one another out of reference for Jesus must be understood through an hierarchical grid that preserves the perceived priestly role of the father who rules and reigns over his personal mini-fiefdom. This also translates all the way down to the bottom level of the chain of command, and unquestioned obedience as a meritorious act of humility must be required of even the smallest child. (The Gothard Discusssion Yahoo Group also contains archives of mothers talking about loving spanking babies and the dubious practice of "Blanket Training," baiting them off of a blanket and then punishing them in order to teach them to remain on the blanket, "a playpen in your purse.") And so, we have the advent of what is now called “First Time Obedience” (FTO). And I have observed, when Voddie Baucham in particular discusses multigenerational faithfulness or discipline, he rarely mentions one concept without bringing up the other at some point.

From Pages 110 - 111 of Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Some instructions from parents must be obeyed immediately and without question, and I am not advocating rebellion. I learned to reserve certain words (“Stop!”), tones and body language for the non-negotiable safety concerns so as to help the child identify and differentiate these non-negotiable directives from those that are not critical. In that sense, and only in that sense, I think what is known as FTO is absolutely appropriate. As noted in the previous blog post, behavioral displays of rudeness (particularly those involving tongues and teeth as “acting out” or “feeling one’s oats” for example), should not be tolerated as willful behavior. One mother shared with me how her grown daughter taught her children sign language before they could speak, and one of the first signs she taught them was the sign for “Stop!” for just this purpose. A child must learn, without any experience, never to put their hand on a hot stove, never to run out into any street, never put anything other than toilet tissue into the commode, perform particular restroom activities in restrooms only and in proper receptacles, etc., to name just a few choice activities. Those things, particularly obvious safety concerns and shows of blatant disrespect or disregard, are never “open to negotiation” and should be matters of “FTO.”

Parental Convenience

When talking to a number of mothers who do not practice FTO and object to it, one of the most common observations they all make surrounds how the parents demand more from their own children than they require of themselves. Most of the adults who expect FTO often seem to have problems rendering the same behavior to others in their lives, as they enjoy the freedom of questioning, but those who are subordinate to them do not have the privilege. It also requires more of children who are immature than God expects of most adults, sending prophets and messengers to men to instruct them in righteousness, bidding them to change prior to punishment. Often the parents who enjoy new mercies every morning from the Lord do not extend that same level of mercy and forgiveness to their children. FTO also makes practical considerations of everyday life much easier for parents, but is that the chief end of parenting? For adults who have problems with control, their children merely become objects in their world rather than those to whom they have a duty to serve and raise. One mom also resented the repeated use of the term “servant leadership” by those who sing the virtues of FTO, because the parents do very little serving of their children, and children effectively end up serving them. For this reason, I’ve created the Overcoming Botkin Syndrome blog, investigating the problems created when parents use children to meet their emotional, psychological and physical needs.

I believe this quote from “Adult Children: The Secret of Dysfunctional Families” by John and and Linda Friel describes quite well the illusion that such kind of perfectionism produces:

“Our symptoms are born out of emotional denial and they serve to maintain that denial. They are ways that we allow ourselves to live one kind of life while convincing ourselves that we have a very different kind of life.

And while they serve to give us the illusion
that we are in control, they are in fact clear indicators that what we have really done is to give up healthy control of our lives to something outside of ourselves.”

(p. 23)

I would also like to note that something quite interesting happens when one studies these types of highly authoritarian systems, something I mentioned in a previous post. Authoritarian systems can produce a great deal of productivity and high performance, but something interesting happens. When not directly observed, the subordinates within authoritarian systems stop performing when the leader steps away from the system, and productivity ceases. Performance resumes, but only when the authoritarian supervision resumes, demonstrating that authoritarianism on a chronic basis squelches problem-solving as well as autonomous, self-directed behavior. Those within an authoritarian system remain dependent upon the authoritarianism itself, so it actually begets more negative reinforcement. On the other hand, systems that demonstrate a more mutually trusting, democratic approach that more closely resembles “one anothering” and mutual cooperation shows, consistently and overall, to be the most productive environment, balanced with discernment, self-direction and non-coerced productivity. Participants share the outcomes, and thus feel invested in the activities personally, thus they are more motivated to particpate spontaneously, taking a healthy sense of personal pride in the outcome as well.

What is unfortunate and what seems to necessitate this multigenerational faithfulness is not really “faithfulness” at all but the ongoing necessity for control. When you create a system that relies so heavily upon authoritarian rule that does not create an environment that encourages autonomy, one must compensate by always providing that authoritarian presence. But it is not natural and healthy for human beings to perform at this level of high performance and pressure on a chronic basis. Voddie Baucham has stated that if the US Marine Corps can produce soldiers that behave with immediate and unquestioned obedience, we should be able to achieve the same outcomes with our children. But what is notable about the Marine Corps is that they do have down time when they are off duty. Children who are raised in an environment where they are expected to conduct themselves like little soldiers have no down time. They don’t get passes for rest and relaxation. Families should not operate under anarchy, but is it necessary to operate a family like a military facility as some suggest and practice?

From Don and Joy Veinot’s “Who Will Be First In the Kingdom?”
Christian authority is not merely a circumstance of birth order or gender, which bestows a position of power in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, who as God, is the only rightful heir of all “authority” (Matt.28:18) demonstrated by His sacrificial life on how Christian authority is to be attained and wielded. Authority is earned by sacrificial living. All of us are to focus on serving those around us. It also means that the higher one ascends to a position of leadership in the church, the more accountable they become to a larger number of people. Those who are truly leaders in a biblical sense live in glass houses, and everyone around them has Windex! It also means that those who follow do so because they are able to observe and trust those who lead (1 Thess. 1:5).

Hebrews 13:17 says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB)

The word rendered obey literally means to be persuaded. It does not mean to hear and unquestioningly comply. The word submit literally means yield. All of this is preceded by something said 10 verses earlier:
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NASB)

All of this flows perfectly from what Jesus said in Mark 10:45. Remember or call to mind those servants who are leading you. Think about how they live and the way they “wear” their faith. You will know they are trustworthy when you observe the selfless lives they live. They have earned and continue earning that trust daily as they serve. Moreover, because of that, we are “persuaded” as persons who also are serving as we yield to their wisdom and not throwing unnecessary roadblocks in their path. This is admittedly a difficult concept. The world around us is still mostly ordered in a top-down structure. We in the Western world enjoy more political equality and freedom than most, but authoritarian leadership as a concept is not dead. Our political leaders may claim it is their desire to “serve the people,” but we mostly see them jockeying for positions of good-old-fashioned power. The Church has some of these same problems. Many people seem to desire to be freed from responsibility by being simply “told what to do.” It eliminates the need to have a personal relationship with God and to diligently practice biblical discernment. And although we are aware of the many true servant/leaders in the Church, there seems also to be no shortage of “leaders” who are more than happy to rule like little kings. This type of leader becomes the mediator for his followers, and the followers simply have to hear and obey. God becomes merely the “big stick” the leader uses to keep everyone in line.

First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission

as an Essential Component of Multigenerational Faithfulness Part II:

From Pages 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s "Family Driven Faith”:

An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Because of the intense focus on perfectionism in many patriocentric homes, I’ve seen every issue of life treated with the same magnitude of a critical safety issue, another concern related to First Time Obedience (FTO). One mother shared with me how Gothard once talked about the importance of the color of a toothbrush that supposedly resulted in a whole family becoming ill. The person who bought the toothbrush was said to be in error because they didn’t stop to pray about what color to purchase, as somehow, this would have averted the illness by avoiding confusion of toothbrushes, thus transmitting some illness to a whole family. Some things in life are just banal and insignificant, and some unfortunate situations in life cannot be circumvented. Yet, with painstaking conviction, Bill Gothard shared this story of the critical significance of the right toothbrush to purchase. I can completely relate to this pressure, as there is a great deal of this kind of pressure in the Arminian leanings of the Word of Faith movement.

Though these types of messages mean to stress personal responsibility, for many, they do little more than foster fear. For example, I once believed that if I arrived at 5th and Main at 10:15 AM instead of 10 AM and missed witnessing to someone, they might not have heard the Gospel, would never have received Jesus as their Savior, and they as well as all of the lives they would have touched would somehow go to hell. (I don’t believe that bondage anymore. I’m just not that important, for one thing... A topic for another day) For me, “Gothard’s wisdom” about the significance of the color of the toothbrush that I pull off of the display at the dollar store fosters that same type of fear. It turns every activity into a sacramental one, so that everything has eternal and weighty significance. Nothing proves to be temporal, and it seems to rule out the power and working of the Holy Spirit, putting all of the burden, a burden of shame, on man.

Some parents respond to every event and task of the day as though it was as significant as a critical safety concern (though I do know some children who have a particular talent for putting themselves in jeopardy, though they are not the norm!). These children receive no room for error, and all matters of life become matters of weighty moral significance wherein absolute obedience must be demonstrated. For example, I know of one home where teenage girls must ask to use the restroom to relieve themselves in the middle of the day. And note that they have no physical ailments or problematic behavioral concerns, but their routine behaviors are so restricted that they are not even given that much personal autonomy. In that home, using the powder room without permission first becomes tantamount to lying, stealing or some other primary and obvious sin of deep moral concern.

I also know several mothers who viewed certain inherent personality traits in their children as sin, when in fact, they were just traits in personality and not moral issues. (Some were actually strengths and not even weaknesses, but they were traits that did not fit the desired paradigm.) Some families treated these traits as though they were moral shortcomings, using various types of punishment in order to reform the characters of their children. Some families decided not to treat them as moral failings, and those families are now grateful that they did not follow the advice of “experts” like Richard Fugate who recommended physical correction for traits like inattention and forgetfulness. All those (known to me) who tried to “standardize” these God-given personality traits in order to eradicate them as sinful have all suffered serious and heartbreaking relationship problems with their now adult children. One now 20 year old left her home as soon as she finished her high school credits (at 18) through their homeschooling organization. Actually, getting out of the home has helped heal this young woman’s relationship with her family, but the whole situation is still far from ideal.

Another mother pointed out to me that many homeschooling experts do not differentiate between that which is a true Biblical mandate and that which is a matter of preference, and though this issue has been discussed here on this blog often, it does bear repeating. Even though we live in a world that would like to declare all things morally neutral does not mean that the answer to this tension requires that we reciprocate by raising ALL activities to a level of the utmost moral significance. Sacraments are set apart from other activities because they are holy and of greater importance than the rest. But some activities, in my opinion, are just insignificant and banal. (Sometimes a toothbrush is nothing more than a toothbrush that is merely a tool that serves a pragmatic purpose.) The skill of discernment does not develop by placing utmost significance upon every activity but it is learned through trial and error in concert with instruction. The Word tells us to add wisdom to our knowledge, and by requiring only obedience in all things, we deny children the opportunity to learn wisdom in a safe environment while under our care and supervision.

Rather than placing our attention on every banal activity like buying a toothbrush, we should rather be discerning about what things are important to God in the eternal sense. But patriocentricity and much of the patriarchal homeschooling movement has focused only on outward and temporal manifestations as a guaranteed indicator of spirituality and godliness because it becomes a works-based endeavor that thwarts the development of wisdom, replacing it with mimicking behavior and parroting sound bytes observed in model examples of what has been set up as a model example of holiness. We do not learn that type of skill and wisdom through first time perfection but rather through trial and error where we are given grace to practice and develop mastery. By requiring FTO and what appears to be the virtue of obedience, we are actually reducing all activity to bureaucratic insignificance. In a world where all matters prove to be of grave significance, we reduce everything to the lowest common denominator. When those things that are temporal and banal are raised to the level of a holy sacrament, we bring disgrace upon that which is truly eternal and holy.

I don’t think that this practice of making everything into some type of sacrament can be seen more clearly than in those matters that have some significance of gender. Every reference to gender seems to be given some kind of eternal spiritual significance, complete with sacramental descriptive modifiers of Biblical, virtuous, and the like. Marriage is said to be normative, and the modifier is written on car windows where “Just Married” would have been written.

External factors, marketed products and other outward shows of piety seem to impart some gender related holiness. Compliance with these sacraments of gender are not only used as outward measures of comparison and worthiness, they also seem to be marketed and promoted as a way of putting on holiness in such a way that they affect change on the inward man. I find it ironic that this becomes much like the purchase of indulgences that prompted Luther to hang his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg in 1517, protesting the buying and selling of holiness.

It actually reminds me quite a bit of Taunya Henderson’s new and ongoing blog series on “The Marketing of the Titus 2 Woman." Taunya is a beautiful woman who has begun her journey out of patriarchy and has much to say about her experiences. I look forward to reading more and more of her fine work.

PART II Addendum:

Spiritualizing All Activities, First Time Obedience, Multigenerational Faithfulness and Unquestioned Obedience

I am a little amused this week, as I did not even intend to post anything about First Time Obedience in reference to multigenerational faithfulness, the code word for conformity within patriocentricity. Then, a few people asked me questions about Voddie Baucham’s online audio teachings about this issue of expectations from small children, all along the lines of “the breaking” of children through discipline. When I went to listen to a new audio of Baucham that I hadn’t yet heard, I noted that the message in this discipline oriented presentation differed little in content from his muligenerational faithfulness messages, and all of these issues were also addressed in his book. And I intended to pull out and comment on sections that I had already marked in his book when I read it about two months ago or so. I figured one blog post would take care of this aspect of multigenerational faithfulness...

How can men make 200 year plans, when I cannot manage to plan a blog post and make it work out as I intend? ;-)

And though I have worked through so much of these emotions and made peace with these aspects of my past, I am still amazed at how deeply this material still pierces into my own personal experiences. In yesterday’s blog post, I noted many families that I observed and those I know well who treated personality traits in their children as faults of sin. One particular young lady who I once carted around on my hip in whose personality I delight represents only one of many of these homeschooled kids. My friend, a mother of 7, says that I get to claim 2 of her children as my own if anyone asks, and I proudly claim this one daughter who I dearly love, lip ring and all. And there is good reason for this – that being that I am also one of those whose bore certain character traits that were treated as sin and error. My dear friend's daughter is much like me (sans lip ring).

I shrink back from certain topics sometimes because I do not want my efforts to communicate information about spiritual abuse to be all about my own experience. That tendency can be a particular problem for only children like me, as we “only-s” (sp?) tend to see the world from only our limited perspective sometimes, just as a consequence of our own development. Things are more personal, intense and we CAN TEND to assume that our own perspective is more universal than it actually is. One consequence of that can be that we project what we feel and know on others, assuming that our own perspective can be the only perspective or the most valuable. So I guard against this projection, as I do not want efforts of educating others about spiritual abuse to become some kind of use of others, a type of exploitation. I don’t want people to become pawns in my own quest to find healing. But at this point, I think it is important to note my own experience, as it relates well to this topic, and I know of no better way to communicate it here.

I did not grow up in a patriocentric home. I was raised by parents who were products of the 1950s, and like the religious groups like Gothard and Vision Forum and the “Passionate Housewives,” there is a common denominator or “moral standard” there. There was a great deal of push to make my life fit that kind of mold as I grew up, coming of age in the early ‘80s. I would not say that my parents would be thrilled if I became Donna Reed, but I believe they desired my life to conform to the ideal standard of the fantasy that they held for themselves, circa 1958. They want me to look like them and be like them and love the same things that they do, and I can’t really fault them much for that at all. I wish I could have made this entirely true, as it would have made life so much easier for all of us. Unfortunately, after spending a great deal of my life pursuing that end, I have been painfully unsuccessful, but not for lack of deserately trying.

Without delving into a great amount of detail, we had some unfortunate experiences that put that ideal fantasy of what life should be like for me well out of reach. And what I find most significant is that I have a very uncommon temperament. Every personality test (like the Meyers-Briggs and Tim La Haye’s writings), spiritual gifting test (like were popular in the ‘80s and one like Willow Creek offered once) and vocational test (Strongs and Campbell) that I have taken put me in anywhere from 2% to 5% of the population. Every single one of these tests lists me as very uncommon. As a comparison, looking at vocational job-satisfaction scores, everyone in my family including my husband falls into a category that accounts for 40% of the population. And my childhood development really brought these obvious traits to bear for my parents. I presented with unique concerns that most other parents did not have with their children. And though my personal history is far more complicated, for our purposes, lets just say that unlike most kids who are like a peg that fits into 40% of the holes that a parent tries to nest them in (be that activities or social situations), I am like a square peg that will slide easily into only about 2 holes out of every 100.

I also had another unique dilemma resulting from this uncommon temperament mix that I bear and now acknowledge as God’s precious gift to me. God put me in the womb of a mother who does not share a great appreciation for my temperament type. My parents are quite phlegmatic, to offer a descriptive term, and I am a melancholy/sanguine. Some of the most unique and wonderful things about my uncommon type of personality are in almost direct contrast and conflict with the natural traits of my parents. As their child, they had the natural expectation that I should be like them, that I should be able to adapt well to the 40% just as they did, and they expected to be able to give that identity to me as their precious parental gift of legacy, along with their values and hopes and best dreams, allowing me to what they could not and giving me the advantages that they did not have. And I learned at a very early age that I was not uniquely wonderful but that I was a problem for looking at the world differently than most everyone else. I defined myself as problematic because differences that I could not alter and that to which I did not easily adapt created so much frustration for my parents. And again, the situation is much more complicated than that for me within my family of origin, but these things are quite true.

Perhaps one of the most painful difficulties I’ve struggled with has been my penchant for speaking the truth. My parents taught me to be truthful, honest and wholehearted above all things, yet it is their natural tendency to be phlegmatic and to "not make waves." But this is their identity and how their personality manifests devotion to truth, not my own. So when I acted faithfully to the values that they gave me, how I manifest that tends to be their worst nightmare, a matter of their preference which they perceive as error on my behalf. Their tendency is to silently support the truth through actions that are not notable. My tendency in the service of the truth involves speaking that truth, defending that truth and advocating for those who have no voice. And rather than spending my energy while developing into an adult by “playing to my strengths,” all attention was spent punishing many of those strengths to eliminate them while requiring me to perform with perfection in those areas where my natural and inherent abilities were quite weak. My parents loved me and did much good, and they never intended to do harm. Yet some harm was done, mostly, I believe, out of ignorance and some of their own issues of shame that God had not yet healed in their own hearts.

Where does that leave me today? Well, at this stage in my life, I believe that God knew and chose with all perfection just whose womb to put me in and just the perfect parents to whom to entrust me. And all of the experiences that I have had, painful as they were, have been to serve His purpose in my life and for the benefit and blessing of others. Maybe it is just for such a time as this, that I can say that I know well what it is like to have demands placed upon me that I could not meet in any way, save to go through the motions in order to meet my parents expectations to avoid punishment and rejection of my true self. Maybe all of this was for such a time as this moment so that I could plea with parents to stop to consider that perhaps a character trait that you see in your child that troubles you might very well be God’s instrument of righteousness in your child’s life to be used and wielded as His weapon of righteousness, far above and beyond anything that you’ve ever imagined.

With the imagery of children as arrows in the hand of the Lord, consider that they are in His hand and not in your hand. The Lord of Hosts aims and shoots those arrows, perhaps at targets that you would protest or perhaps ones that may even bring you great shame in your own flesh. But He is their maker and He is the archer that sends your children to the place and calling that He intends for them. Though children are arrows in the hand of the Lord and He blesses the man whose quiver is indeed full, what is the chief purpose of an arrow? Is it to remain in the quiver only? Is it only an ornament for the man who bears the quiver on his back? Or is the chief purpose and end of an arrow to be at the ready in the quiver for only a time? And should that arrow not be designed well, not to accommodate the convenience of the quiver but to be fit as a most effective weapon, designed to accomplish His intended purpose with expert precision as its Sovereign Designer intended? And it so breaks my heart to realize that I had to leave my parents’ quiver in order to find the warriors who found me to be a most desirable and celebrated instrument, uniquely designed for uncommon targets to do good service in the hand of the Lord. My husband is chief among them who celebrates me as his wife, and I am grateful to him and those like him who celebrated the very things so many others despised.

My parents wanted to give God the best and to do the best job by preparing me, though they didn’t have all of the resources that they needed to avoid some of these pains, spending much energy trying to conform me into what they expected and what they preferred. That was all part of God’s sovereign plan to put me here in this moment to declare this message. I hope that for those who have an uncommon arrow and for the uncommon arrows themselves, that they would learn from my experience. Think about whether the quiver was made for the arrow or the arrow for the quiver or for the intended target. And consider celebrating your uncommon arrows as God’s precious, albeit frustrating, gifts to you. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit. Systems to help you become a more effective parent should serve the goal of preparing your children to be dynamic, power-house Christians on fire for Jesus, hopefully above and beyond anything you could ask or think.

Consider that rather than desiring one day to look back to say “This child did precisely as I intended and I did well” that you might be better to say “Look what the Lord has done with this child. He has done exceedingly abundantly above all I could have ever asked or thought for His glory in a way that I never dreamed.”

In closing this post, I would also like to state that as a consequence of trying to conform to my parents standards and eventually abandoning what was a fantasy of idolatry for me, I did suffer something I deeply regret. I learned to be easily brainwashed by anyone who was like my parents or by anyone who occupied a position that seemed parental to me. I learned to sell out my mind for the greater good to any authority that I trusted, and particularly any authority that reminded me of my parents. If I could identify the worst and most terrible consequences of my all the experiences of my life related to what I learned by trying to conform by basically denying and even attempting to destroy who God created me to be, it would be this core of idolatrous self-hatred for identifying my identity in Christ as sinful.

Learning this process and wrongfully defining it as obedience to my parents has predisposed me to errors in judgement that have resulted in being molested and raped as a child (by one whom I identified as a trusted authority figure to whom I should submit) against whom I had no recourse. As an adult, it predisposed me to submitting myself to the unjust spiritual abusers and religious authorities in a very damaging, cultic Evangelical church that preached the Gospel and laid hands on the sick and operated in the gifts of the Spirit that I believed qualified them as trustworthy. For this reason, I believe that the costs of unquestioned submission and ideals like “First Time Obedience” do far more damage than good. It is convenient for parents who believe that they are acting in the best interest of their children, but I believe that trusting and naive young girls and women very much like me have reaped terrible consequences of this type of unqualified and demanded obedience.

Please consider this following technique of self-deprecation used as a tried, tested and true technique of thought reform. I believe that just as adults who are subjected to spiritual abuse suffer these consequences, I believe that these are very similar dynamics that I learned in my own home because I did not fit the expected norm. And I believe that this made the process of religious conversion in a Bible-based cult all the easier and more familiar for me, almost seeming to offer a solution to my primary problem: my perpetual failure to earn my parents acceptance. If I have lusted after anything in my life, surely nothing has compared to the idolatrous lust I’ve followed in seeking after my parents’ approval. And the quest to satisfy that lust has hurt me far more than any other factor in my life. My parents never intended this to be so, but they didn't undertand that they were fostering idolatry in my heart. Surely they never would have done so if they had known. None of us knew.

Son of David, have mercy on me for having served them, my own lust for their acceptance and the wounds of my own heart. All I ever really desired was You and wholeness in You through your Atoning Blood. And I didn’t know any better. Please spare Your people this same pain. My heart is ever contrite before You, my Creator. Ever let Your strength be made perfect in my – Oh so many – weaknesses. Search me, know me, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

From Biderman’s Chart of Coercison on the reFocus website:

Devaluing the Individual

  • Creates fear of freedom
  • Creates dependence upon captors
  • Creates feelings of helplessness
  • Develops lack of faith in individual capabilities

Abusive leaders are frequently uncannily able to pick out traits church members are proud of and to use those very traits against the members. Those with natural gifts in the areas of music may be told they are proud or puffed up or "anxious to be up front" if they want to use their talents and denied that opportunity. Those with discernment are called judgmental or critical, the merciful are lacking in holiness or good judgment, the peacemakers are reminded the Lord came to bring a sword, not peace. Sometimes efforts are made to convince members that they really are not gifted teachers or musically talented or prophetically inclined as they believed they were. When members begin to doubt the one or two special gifts they possess which they have always been sure were God-given, they begin to doubt everything else they have ever believed about themselves, to feel dependent upon church leaders and afraid to leave the group. ("If I've been wrong about even *that*, how can I ever trust myself to make right decisions ever again?").

Warning Signs:

Unwillingness to allow members to use their gifts. Establishing rigid boot camp-like requirements for the sake of proving commitment to the group before gifts may be exercised. Repeatedly criticizing natural giftedness by reminding members they must die to their natural gifts, that Paul, after all, said, "When I'm weak, I'm strong," and that they should expect God to use them in areas other than their areas of giftedness. Emphasizing helps or service to the group as a prerequisite to church ministry. This might take the form of requiring that anyone wanting to serve in any way first have the responsibility of cleaning toilets or cleaning the church for a specified time, that anyone wanting to sing in the worship band must first sing to the children in Sunday School, or that before exercising any gifts at all, members must demonstrate loyalty to the group by faithful attendance at all functions and such things as tithing. No consideration is given to the length of time a new member has been a Christian or to his age or station in life or his unique talents or abilities. The rules apply to everyone alike. This has the effect of reducing everyone to some kind of lowest common denominator where no one's gifts or natural abilities are valued or appreciated, where the individual is not cherished for the unique blessing he or she is to the body of Christ, where what is most highly valued is service, obedience, submission to authority, and performance without regard to gifts or abilities or, for that matter, individual limitations.
Consider that this is what you are doing to your children when you demand your way and your desires for their lives, even from the time they are small and seek only to run to you and hide themselves in the comfort under the shadow of your wings. No parent desires to reduce their children into automatons or two dimensional beings with no depth of character to leave them wounded and confused. But that it what happens to many of us. We were not made for the Sabbath rest but the Sabbath rest was made for us. Yet for many of us there is only striving to meet demands of perfection wherein there is no rest for the people of God. So many of these parenting paradigms are millstones, hung around the necks of little ones. And we weep.

06Mar09 UPDATE:

We gave much cause for great hope. Today, within an hour, I read two new similar blog posts that describe aspects of this problem with multigenerational faithfulness from a different perspective. Please read these two posts for this broader perspective:

From "The Unconventional Approach" by Richard Sandlin:
You choose what you’re comfortable with. That’s the way to decapitate the foe that faces you. Never let anyone force you to go in their armor; you were not fitted for it, and it certainly does not fit you.

From "Giving our Children the Freedom to be Different ~ Grace in Parenting, Part 3" by Karen Campbell:
As I read these words, I realize how often I have been loath to extend grace to my children and have allowed my own tastes and opinions to be presented to them as a holy standard, when the truth is that God’s Word is the standard we ought to be pointing toward. How often I have even been tempted to put my own spin on Scripture in order to “prove” that my preference is the “right” one. And I have remembered the times when my first thought was “what would other people think about me, especially as a homeschooling mom, if my kid does x, y, or z.” It has caused me to repent of my own sin of loving myself more than I have loved God or my children.

First Time Obedience and Multigenerational Faithfulness Part III:

Continuing the discussion of problems inherent in unquestioned obedience and "First Time Obedience" as a component of multigenerational faithfulness. Please refer to previous blog posts on the topic if you've not already read them.

From Page 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”:
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Critical thinking describes the ability to think and make good choices with maturity and purpose. It requires anticipating outcomes based upon the information that is automatically absorbed or sought out from one's environment, coordinating that information with experience, wrote knowledge, and one’s own emotions. Critical thinking (analytical problem-solving) exceeds merely knowing information, the ability to perform certain tasks or regurgitating information. It culminates in the demonstration of wisdom that draws on the whole host of these factors to produce sound and reliable judgement.

I believe very strongly that when people are placed in environments that are highly authoritarian and they are not afforded any opportunity for trial and error because of high demands of perfection, the development of critical thinking suffers profoundly. One in such an environment must always be dependent on another to tell them what to do and how to do things. God created us as creatures who are quite capable of mimicking and repeating things, but this is not the pinnacle of what He desires from us. The Word tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, that which we should pursue and desire. The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and we are to walk in wisdom of the Word, therefore we should be expected to know it. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds with the wisdom of the Word, being ever more transformed into the image of Jesus, the Mind of the Ages. We are instructed to have the mind of Christ. So the idea of being dependent upon another stands in stark contrast to the message of the “just do what you are told and do not ask any questions” mentality that is required of both children and of adults who find themselves on lower hierarchical levels as required by the concept of proper submission under multigenerational faithfulness.

Critical thinking is quite interesting. If you ever “got wise” about something , the expression usually references some process of failure. Critical thinking cannot be learned through observation only but must be practiced personally, just as watching a champion figure skater does not make one proficient at skating. Building the mind's muscle of wisdom comes about through exercise, not through observation. One must be engaged in critical thought to develop the skill of problem–solving. Skills do not improve without practice, and we all know that “practice makes perfect.” This is very true of critical thinking, as one must be engaged and deliberate about pursuing wisdom. It is not something easily found on one simple search like picking up a gallon of milk at the market. Practice to make perfect implies learning as a result of failures that build into a body of experience, a commodity that cannot be feigned or obtained in any other manner save by what many call “the school of hard knocks.” Perfection comes at a price, paid in hard knocks and “getting wise” through trial “by error” and, sometimes, “by fire.” All these terms suggest struggle and testing, bereft with suggestion of outcomes that are not sure to be positive.

Barbara at Mommy Life had this to say in her post entitled “Critical Thinking - Teaching Your Kids to Think for Themselves”:
During my homeschooling years, I found teaching critical thinking skills to be of utmost importance so that my kids could learn to question prevailing wisdom and think for themselves. I have no fear that thinking for themselves would cause them to leave their faith - and it's okay with me if they question it. What good is their faith if it's just my brainwashing? They must be able to take in other points of view and come to their own conclusions. If their faith is strong, it will survive.
Sage advice indeed.
In my professional training and especially teaching critical thinking and problem-solving to nurses in the clinical setting, some considerations are far more important than others. Some basic skills which seem insignificant in isolation can be critical because they become foundational to other learning and become components of other, more advanced skills. These skills build upon others, with building being the operative concept. And other aspects of care prove essential and absolutely critical because error can immediately put the life of a patient in jeopardy. Certain practices and all standards of care are non-negotiable, but other practices can be matters of preference when they increase efficiency of the nurse and do not affect outcomes of the patient. Some of the little things don't really matter, so long as care is safe and proficient. Happy employees perform better, and their patients have faster healing and better outcomes when the nurses who care for them do not operate under chronic stress and frustration, too. The real skill that the good instructor and preceptor imparts is not necessarily the review of basic skills or even by demonstrating correct technique but a demonstration of what rules to drop low on the list of priorities in favor of others that are more critical. Sometimes following the obvious cut and dry standards can result in a bad outcome for your patient. Critical care nursing is anything but a black and white world.

Also, when demands run high (as they always do in healthcare), and when resources become limited, one must sacrifice perfection. The system forces you to prioritize, because clinical situations are volatile and unpredictable. I was taught how to make a bed so that the seams never rub against a patient’s skin which can actually lead to a bedsore in a debilitated client. A bedsore, particularly an infected one, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the harm to a patient, so this is not anything to ignore. I was also taught how to remove sheets from a bed with minimal agitation of the air so as to limit distribution of germs through the air. In an age of “superbugs” like MRSA, this is no trivial concern, either. However, when you have three patients, one is arresting, one has symptoms of decompensation and needs your attention, your highest priority cannot and definitely should not be the third patient's bed linen.

Mastery of proper priority setting does not come “first time,” even though the “stakes are high” in healthcare, often resulting in dramatic life or death consequences. But mastery comes only with experience and through actually working through complex clinical situations, and that takes time. To qualify as a good critical care nurse, that nurse really needs a bare minimum of at least 2 years of full-time experience in a challenging setting, and most hospitals require that nurses have a full year of experience in a non-critical setting before they will train them in critical care. You do not want an automaton nurse who cannot prioritize, knowing what important consideration to temporarily abandon in order to avert or attend to a more serious and volatile crisis. You need a nurse that can "seemingly disobey” one directive or delay following that directive when another more serious consideration threatens life and limb.

I could also offer many examples where delaying orders or failing to follow orders as written could have resulted in more harm to a patient, another consideration that give me cause to protest the "do it and do it now" mentality. Sometimes this can be the worst advice. Sometimes waiting on test results before following through on a medical order can result in avoiding harm or providing benefit to a patient (like holding a dose of Gentamycin for an hour or two, an antibiotic toxic to the kidneys to wait to check on kidney function results when this is a matter of concern). But I also have freedom to do things like this in a clinical setting, often because I've established a relationship of trust with the physicians who rely on my problem-solving to help them achieve the best outcome for the patient. This also makes me think of a scene in one of my favorite films, "It's a Wonderful Life." Young George Bailey notes that old Mr. Gower the druggist has accidentally put poison in capsules that he has been asked to deliver to a family of sick children. He delays delivery of the capsules, attempting to get some advice from his father first who he cannot get to talk with to help him with advice. George ends up returning to the drug store, but by then, he has the confidence to bring the error to old Mr. Gower's attention. George's delay saved a family full of children from accidental poisoning and we learn later in the film that it also saves Mr. Gower's career. Critical thinking thrives in an atmosphere of trust.

Both of these examples of critical thought within a relationship of trust bring attention to another important component of First Time Obedience (FTO): a pervasive assumption of pessimism and anticipation of failure. When there is no atmosphere of trust in those with whom you interact, or when there is no trust or confidence in your children, that outlook may very well necessitate an authoritarian approach. You do not trust the judgement of a "tool" that you use to fulfill a perfunctory purpose, and patriocentricity does objectify women and children who are viewed as tools who serve the patriarch's vision. If a husband lacks respect for his wife and does not view her as capable of making sound decisions and exercising sound judgement, can he really tolerate disobedience from her? For the sake of the family, if he has no trust in her, he will feel compelled to issue orders to be followed without question. Autonomy without trust would be highly inappropriate. There will also be no opportunity for the building of trust there if the wife is given no opportunity to demonstrate worthiness of that trust. The same is true of children.

A well-trained child with the ability to think analytically will not require a parent to micro-manage them, and a relationship that grows in trust will not even assume the need for FTO. The distinction here is quite subtle. FTO assumes and anticipates a focus and an expectation of failure, seeming to say “They better get this right,” implying that they will likely get it wrong. It comes from a place of pessimism, a place of viewing others as “one rung down on the ladder” in ability. Quite often, people will live up to your expectations of them, and this approach destroys trust and confidence on a deeper level. But when there is a high view of respect and trust of someone, seeking to encourage them and coaching them from a presumption of their success and an overarching confidence in their ability to grow and prosper, there is no need for FTO. There is no failure presumed beforehand. Failures become a part of learning and are handled with loving grace. That does not mean to imply that failures are desirable outcomes, but that kid who meets with FTO realized that expectations of them are low enough that they must be reminded of consequences if not threatened with them. For some kids that may be necessary, but for many, this fosters fear. Kids pick up on that, particularly the younger ones. How can a kid learn to problem-solve if there is no opportunity to solve anything themselves and if all the outcomes as well as the processes have been predetermined?

I also found another interesting quote about critical thinking and fostering this in children, though it is from a source that is secular. I think it’s well worth considering.

From “Critical Thinking in Children: Are we teaching our kids to be dumb?” by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.:
What can we do?

I don’t know of any specific research on the subject. So what follows is just my best guess...

If we spot errors, we need to discuss them with our kids. We need to teach our kids that books and other media—even adult authorities—can make mistakes.

And most of all, our kids need positive reinforcement for thinking critically, for being logical, and for offering unconventional solutions to problems. Before we correct a child’s wrong answer, we should reflect on whether or not it really is wrong.
But as we can infer from this advice, the adult who hopes to foster critical thinking must have a degree of trust in the child, but they must also be willing to demonstrate a certain degree of transparency and some willingness to admit fault to the child. And I don't know that the patriocentrists find that to be acceptable behavior. The grid of hierarchy does not readily allow for such transparency.

First Time Obedience and

Unquestioned Submission as an Essential Component of Multigenerational Faithfulness Part IV:

Examining a few of the theological concerns of First Time Obedience and unquestioned submission, a necessary and essential component of multigenerational faithfulness.

From Pages 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”:
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Dr. Baucham goes to some length to tell us that God does not necessarily punish us right away for all sins, pointing out that the Absolute and Perfect Judge of the universe sometimes finds what we can only assume to be perfect reasoning for delaying punishment. Might that be for training us in discernment and adding to our knowledge, wisdom? Might He delay punishment in order to teach us of His faithfulness regardless of our performance so that we might know on a personal level that when we are forgiven much, we love much?

Maybe the chief purpose and end of living is much greater than mindless or coerced obedience, with love and trust as the focus from which joyful obedience flows without any concerns about fear of failure. Maybe the chief purpose and end of living is not even perfection. There’s an old cliche about life being about the journey and not necessarily about the destination. Though I think Baucham would agree that building and developing of our character serves as a paramount destination in life, for a great deal of our living and the circumstances of our lives focus not so much in accomplishment but in God’s using of those circumstances to change us. And sometimes this process reveals to us that our measures of accomplishment don’t ever match God’s measures and purposes at all. Is the grand measure of our success as parents weighed by obedience alone? One might raise creation’s most obedient child, yet they may be grossly lacking in character, ability, tenacity, confidence, etc... We may have a raised a perpetual child and not a man or woman. Yet so much patriocentric stock is placed in the obedience of the submission doctrines because of the overt focus on themes of authority, and children are oft raised to be little more than grown and undiscerning children.

I also do not understand this aspect of Baucham’s statement. He rightly explains that God very often chooses to withhold immediate consequences and the ramifications of our actions from us. And though Baucham does not point this out, we know that along with the negative, God also withholds some of the rewards and benefits of our successes. Baucham establishes that God’s world does not operate as an instant, “add water and stir” kind of world for anyone. Yet due to some logical leap that I do not understand and for reasons that he does not detail, Baucham uses God’s example of delaying consequences to declare that we should not conform to our Heavenly Father’s example. We should seek to be unlike Him in this respect. I don’t understand his reasoning or lack thereof. Should we not as parents seek to be like our perfect heavenly Father? The only reason that I can identify that Baucham offers in support of his preference for First Time Obedience (FTO) is his own personal preference. The examples that he draws from Scripture and the arguments that he presents in support of his premise actually speak against FTO. Unlike the perfect King of the Universe, Baucham expects the fallible parent to demand and obtain immediate obedience, at the risk of immediate punishment.

I find this whole passage as illogical as it can be and a completely unsupported argument, like some kind of emperor’s new clothes. I can imagine that Baucham would argue his complete departure from logic as my missing his point. But to be honest and clear, his justification demonstrates some huge flaws and holes that a couple of my friends would say could accommodate a dump truck. There is no argument about how we need to count the cost so as to not tread carelessly upon the Precious Blood of Jesus in our worldliness and flesh. There is no stressing of us to be holy because Jesus called us to be holy like Him. There is no sermon of how God surrendered to us His very best, even to the point of delivering His own Son up unto death, even the death of the Cross, so we should be ever more cognizant of the Price paid for us. Our living should then reflect our reverence and we should live with the ever present honor for exactly what Christ did for us by laying down His own life in our stead. That is markedly absent from Baucham’s directive. The only argument offered states that because God is gracious, holy and tolerant, we should be perfectionists with very low tolerance for failure, demanding of our children what God does not even demand of us. We should require even higher demands than God requires of us, and it is true because Baucham says so.

His argument makes no logical sense, but it certainly reveals his personal preferences and those things about himself which he apparently disdains: imperfection. And he unknowingly gives us a window into the source of his own, unresolved shame through the heavy degree of personal, emotional and inappropriate projection of his own issues onto every Christian. This is not a Gospel message but one of works-based salvation, completely missing the whole point of unmerited favor offered to us precisely BECAUSE we cannot attain perfection. Through his own projection, he demonstrates the primary faults in patriocentricity: gross lack of grace, brittle intolerance for personal failure due to rigid legalistic standards of performance (a works-based salvation), miserable perfectionism as a measure of piety, and the self-centeredness of the system for those who find themselves in the privileged position at the top of the hierarchy.

Molly Aley points this out in her blog entry concerning FTO, and I encourage you to read her entry on the subject. She also comes to many of these same conclusions about the discrepancies that I find in this section of Baucham’s book:
God did not require physical punishment before receiving their repentance. Instead, he pleaded with them to change their ways so as to avoid the consequences that He did not want them to experience. He did not demand first-time obedience. In fact, when Yahweh pleaded with Israel above to reform, they were already pretty far gone (see Isaiah 1:2-4, 21-23 for a few details).

So even under the pale of the demanding performance-oriented Old Covenant Law, God still did not always parent the way the first-time-obedience-or-get-spanked teachers say is God’s way. It is wise to seek ways to teach our children to follow God’s good paths. But in so doing, it’s not wise to make authoritative statements about how God wants us to do that, when God Himself did not do it that way with His own children.

Read the entire entry HERE.

I addressed some of this in the previous post concerning Dr. Baucham’s statement about shyness and fear in a two year old, describing in audio sermons how he will stand and wait until parents compel their children to greet him in a manner he deems appropriate. He does not make the case in his book, but he does so in several audio offerings on child discipline and multigenerational faithfulness available online. I find this behavior to be an inappropriate expectation to set for most small children of 2 years of age. In fact, I know many adults that would be quite intimidated to greet Dr. Baucham in such a manner.

In summary, I would like to reiterate that in a previous blog post discussing “Family Driven Faith,” I noted the very narrow scope of Dr. Baucham’s standard of tolerance. I find his style far too authoritarian and too manipulative to be appropriate for that of a pastor. In reviewing these passages of Baucham’s book again with my husband and with several mothers who I respect and trust, they all commented on the brazen assurance with which he speaks, offering no grace or respect for any perspective that differs from his own. This is particularly notable to me in the last paragraph in the above quote wherein Baucham seems to me to reflect his own personal shortcomings and struggles with anger and intolerance, wrongly projecting them as universal problems of parenting. Everyone I spoke with found this quite offensive. Baucham defines his opinions as THE Biblical models, the most notable example being how his Family Integrated Church model serves as the “most Biblical” model, a thinly veiled condemnation of those who do not share his preferences and convictions. But this is quite typical of how those in patriocentricity relate to all those outside of their system, a practice of idolatry where the father within the home serves as the center of all activity. This is a practice of the pagan Roman paterfamilias and not a depiction of the Gospel.

From "Putting Voddie Baucham's Family Driven Faith Into Perspective":

Because the authoritative approach and the numerous fallacies Baucham uses to support his views frustrate me, they impeded my progress through the material...

I recognize this and see Baucham playing out this dilemma and its consequences in his book, sometimes projecting his perspective onto others using a misleading and authoritative approach...

Voddie Baucham, like Doug Phillips, has a great deal to offer the church, but his personal and extra-biblical preferences work like potent poison in practice for a great many people who found the full scope of these teachings to be devastating. Baucham’s book misleads, and though it contains many good elements, it uses bad logic and manipulation to force mere opinions and preferences as indisputable facts with either absent or unsatisfying “proven evidence.”

If groups like Gothard require such a high level of submission and the rejection of reasonable, rational credulity as a “leap of faith” as a demonstration of one’s virtue and as a means of accumulating grace as some meritorious benefit that one earns and accumulates for spiritual potency, is it all that unreasonable to understand multigenerational faithfulness any differently when addressing obedience in children? This gnostic view of higher living through works-based performance can only be paternalistic, and it necessitates authoritarian control across the lifespan. How could we expect otherwise from a group of people who believe that it is necessary not only to teach one’s children how to plan strategically with wisdom but to extend that into some type of ordering the events of life of one’s grown children through a 200 year plan? So much depends upon the appeal of the largely nebulous phrase of “multigenerational faithfulness,” because what it actually represents is a collectivistic system that systematically robs the soul of transcendence in Christ. It is a semi-Pelagian working of one’s way back to Adam through the catalyst of Jesus Christ by merely looking obedient based upon external and temporal factors. The system and those in it measure one’s heart by outward performance and appearance which can easily be feigned for the gaining of status, displacing the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer with works-based performance. Followers learn to chase the outward signs of holiness through a system of positive and negative reinforcement, and true holiness through the grace of Christ Jesus stands condemned as antinomianism.

The promoters of this doctrine of multigenerational faithfulness (who borrowed the term from someone else) hope that you will pay no attention to the men behind the curtain marked as “Biblical” so as to not pull it back to find the mechanistic workings of an authoritarian system. It is yet just another of man’s attempts to pull himself up by his bootstraps through yet another a works-based religion that claims “all things Biblical” as a disclaimer. Even the name of and reference to Jesus Christ often proves to be notably absent.

RC Sproul, Jr’s Take on Multigenerational Faithfulness:

“When You Rise Up”

Before closing this discussion of multigenerational faithfulness, I would like to comment on RC, Jr’s book -- what he calls his “covenantal approach to homeschooling.” When searching online for the term, this book figures high on the list.

From a book excerpt on

"While almost all Christian parents would agree with that statement, when the chalk meets the chalkboard, they live as if they care more about their children chalking up achievements and getting into a good college than cultivating humble obedience to God and encouraging a long-term vision of multi-generational faithfulness in their future families."

For many years, and for what I understand to pre-date the Bristol Virginia/Tennessee compound days, my husband and I read RC, Jr’s materials. From time to time, I would read encouraging things RC had written to my homeschooling mom friends to encourage them, but since my husband and I were busy battling illness and waiting on providence for the opportunity to homeschool our own kids, we glossed over most of RC’s homeschooling content. But we did read quite a bit of his material and listened to tapes and such. We were certainly not strangers to RC, Jr’s writings at all.

When I started reading “When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling,” RC, Jr’s contribution to multigenerational faithfulness, I was shocked to discover that he now sounds to me like a "brave new ersatz theonomist," the type of theonomist that I don’t think that RJ Rushdoony would agree was an actual theonomist. After Rousas Rushdoony’s passing, it seems that all sorts of people popped up with all sorts of new beliefs that I’d never associated or read in the writings of theonomy before. (Some people tell me that he spent a great deal of time before he died correcting those who made theonomy into something like a new religion of the Judaizers.) A brand new legalistic theonomist have appeared over the past 10 years or so, people that John Robbins named “ersatz Evangelicals,” I think because he didn’t even want to call some of these folks Calvinists. This type of "schtick" caught me by surprise, as RC seems to be reading right out of the Doug Phillips' playbook. Prior to 2000 or so, I did not note that type of aberrancy in RC, Jr.'s work, but then, I was not reading the homeschooling content closely at all and saw what I wanted to see. I ask the same question about RC that I have about many theonomists and the patriocentrists: “Were they proclaiming this same message of works all along, were they this far off the mark, or was I just oblivious to it prior to circa 1998 - 2001 (when I first noticed these leaders becoming increasingly aberrant)?” The answer seems to be that these matters were a unique mix of all of these factors, partly owing to my own ignorance or avoidance, but partly due to a change among these men after Rushdoony’s journey to his eternal reward.

Live, learn and get wise.

One thing that I did appreciate at a few points in the book and something I’ve loved in RC, Jr’s writings has been his appreciation for embracing the Cross and embracing one’s own cross with joy and peace. I did rejoice to read this quote: “They need to know that the Jesus they serve is already sovereign, so that if bad guys come, it is only because the one Good Guy ordained it for our good and for his glory” (pg 104). He always had a good grasp of this concept, I thought, and he has a very poetic way of communicating this concept in a way that has always been edifying for me. It never had the “submit, suffer, and die if you have to” quality that the Shepherding and Submission Doctrines do in a way that produces shame.

But I was terribly disappointed to read what I would call standard Vision Forum fare throughout the rest of the book. It has the RC, Jr. rambling quality which my husband thinks is a part of his charm. I only wish that the content were more charming. RC builds strawman after strawman to perpetuate the idea of separatism and elitism throughout the book, poorly characterizing anyone who falls outside of his increasingly narrowing group of acceptable Christians. I’m also very disappointed in his fear mongering, and I wonder if that was also something always present in his writings that I failed to notice because I either identified with it too much or because I didn’t want to recognize it. He has a penchant for drama, dread and controversy. He says that “homeschoolers lack a fitting dread that they might be conformed to this world" (pg 100). Why dread something over which we should have dominion? I’m to hate the world and fear God. Voddie Baucham did say something that made my heart sing in a sermon on multigenerational faithfulness that counters this idea of RC’s . Voddie said that he wants the kind of kids that, when his kids get awake in the morning, it makes the devil tremble because they are such effective Christians. That’s real dominion and a point where I agree with Baucham. I think that the whole point of homeschooling is living so that we should have no need to have any dread of the world at all, because it is the world that should dread the Living God in us. (Maybe RC and Voddie can have chat about that issue sometime?)

But what I found most disturbing about this book was a vignette of a family of eight that RC discusses who has a nine year old daughter that cannot read. When I first learned of homeschooling in the late 70s, I thought it was amazing how much better the academic training a child could receive from a mother with a vested interest in the outcome. And I have had friends who struggled with children with learning disabilities. I have helped these friends work with their children, and I’ve worked with kids in the Christian school where I volunteered, helping with these very issues. So I am not terribly stressed about a 9 year old that cannot read. These families I know worked and sought out every resource, screening their kids for problems and trying different alternatives such as trying private school for a year, considering that their child might do better with a different teacher in a different setting. Vision problems and physical problems were ruled out as a deterrent factor. And I don’t know that this was not the case with the family that RC describes in his book, but he certainly made no effort to point out what the family did one way or the other. That could be an oversight (that RC did not make a point to explain that the family had worked hard and done all they could do to rule out an organic problem which explains why their nine year old can't read), but one that I find a bit disturbing, setting a standard that this is acceptable (that a 9 year old homeschooled girl can't read). But this I find even more troubling:

From Pages 110 - 112:

The mother made a confession to me. She told me, “You know, my nine-year-old daughter doesn’t know how to read.” Now here is a good test to see how much baggage you are carrying around. Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you thinking, “Mercy, what would the school superintendent say if he knew?” My response was a cautious, “Really?” But my friend went on to explain, “She doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to the potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I saw her rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn’t know how to read, but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do, as does her mother. I want her to read to equip her to learn the Three Gs. [From earlier in the book, he notes the "Three Gs": Who is God? What has God done? What does God require?] But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.

I’m not suggesting that the goal is to have ignorant daughters. I am, however, arguing that we are to train them to be keepers at home. These two are not equivalent. Though we aren’t given many details we know that both Priscilla and Aquila had a part in the education of Apollos. I’m impressed with Priscilla, as I am with my own wife. She is rather theologically astute... My point is that that brilliance isn’t what validates her as a person. It’s a good thing, a glorious thing, and an appropriate thing. But it’s like the general principle we’ve already covered. Would I rather be married to a godly woman who was comparatively ignorant, or a wicked person who was terribly bright? Who would make a better wife and mother, someone who doesn’t know infra- from supralapsarianism, but does know which side is up on a diaper, or a woman about to defend her dissertation on the eschatology of John Gill at Cambridge but one who thinks children are unpleasant? It’s no contest, is it? Naturally we want everything. We want all the virtues to the highest degree. But virtues come in different shades and colors in different circumstances.

I don’t understand why the patriocentrists work so hard at making reading and caring for a home and children a life long and an either-or dichotomy. RC tells us that it doesn’t matter if your kid can read, so long as they meet the requirements of a good wife and mother. It isn't called home-keeping-schooling. It's called homeschooling. Sproul and his soulmates suggest over and over that if a young woman knows the meaning of fifty cent words that she may not have enough room in her brain to adequately put a diaper on a baby or will be unable to be a proficient and loving mother to her children. And God forbid that she not be able to make a pie! What makes academic excellence and being proficient at keeping the home mutually exclusive? This I don’t understand.

The laws of our land require that children receive adequate basic schooling, and when the Christian school and homeschooling movements came about, it was a concerted goal as a Christian virtue to show the world that we could do what they could do – and do it better. And I don't think it's any kind of good Christian witness at all to say "Well, they wouldn't get any better of an education in public school, and I want my children to have good character." But this is not an excuse for a permissive attitude when our kids can't read, and certainly not when it is written about in a book that sets a standard for a "covenantal vision." As Christians, we used to seek to set a higher standard of academic excellence, because that’s what I thought taking dominion was all about. That’s what I heard John Holt and Raymond and Dorothy Moore speak about, and I even heard it from Kevin Leman. But I find less and less of this spirit of dominion in homeschooling with the advent of the "movement homeschooling gender sacraments." And I suppose it’s a great blessing that Rushdoony and the Moores are no longer with us, because I believe they would be (more) heartsick. (Addendum note: HERE is the blog post wherein RC calls himself a "Movement Homeschooler," and thatmom Karen Campbell's response can be found HERE.)

So concludes my review of multigenerational faithfulness, and I just felt that I would be remiss if I did not bring attention to this disturbing passage and growing trend among far too many groups of homeschoolers. This is the kind of example that threatens to ruin homeschooling for everyone.

"Charis" offered this additional perspective in response to this quote from RC Sproul, Jr.s book, and I wanted to include it here as well.

From "Emotional Incest" on the blog entitled "A Wife's Submission":

This little 9 year old child was having the weight of the household put upon her shoulders. She’s a child. How is this any different than what alcoholic parents do to their children? shifting way too much adult responsibility onto their children and robbing them of their childhood? Its emotional incest.

The most disturbing thing to me about the quote is the apparent blindness to the “problem in paradise”. This situation is PRAISED rather than recognized as a serious chronic boundary violation against this little girl.
Read the entire post HERE.

This is precisely one of my greatest concerns about the Vision Forum paradigm and the Shepherding/Discipleship/Submission Doctrines that prompted me to create the blog entitled "Overcoming Botkin Syndrome." I believe that these folks have just slapped a snappy, new title on serious family dysfunction that harms children and bitterly breaks hearts, making something very evil out to be God's ideal and "Biblical."

Thoughts on Fear-Based Obedience:

I love these Sandlins... And as I wind up the discussion of multigenerational faithfulness, I wanted to bring attention to what Pastor Andrew Sandlin wrote to me about this discussion as well as a new entry that his father, Pastor Richard Sandlin, just posted on his blog today.

Regarding following the New Covenant by virtue of living under the legalism of the Old Covenant standards:
"Historically the church has seen Jesus as the True Seed of Abraham, and all those united to Him in faith are heirs of the Abrahamic promises (Gal. 3). While those promises include, in general, glorious pledges to our children, one of the errors of the modern patriarchy movement is to turn those promises into a technique of works-righteousness in which parental law-keeping (defined as rule adherence) secures multi-generational blessings. But for Moses, at the heart of the law is the Gospel, and it is this Gospel that seems tragically absent from much patriarchal ideology."
personal communication, 2Feb09

And from "False Fear"
on the "Sandlin Says" blog :

“They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.” This record is as old as the Bible, but it is as new as today. These ancient people have kin among us in our age. There is at this present time, a generation of professing Christians who say they fear the one true God, but serve another.

Something is tragically wrong when a person can divorce their fear of God from their obedience to God. We are told in the Scriptures to “...fear the Lord...and obey his voice...” It is plain to see, these ancients, along with their modern day contemporaries, have a counterfeit fear. Notice that all the wrong lies in the fear itself. If you’re wrong on the fear, then you’re wrong on everything else.

You can always spot a person with a false fear of God. Yes, they pay Him outward respect, and give Him formal recognition, but that is as far as it goes. This kind of fear is skin courtesy. There is no beating heart behind it. It’s hollow—not holy. These kinds of people give God a passing nod on their way to do something they feel is better.

The Irish have a good saying for a person when they speak without their heart being in it, “He speaks from the teeth out.”

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