I never imagined that I would end up in a debate with Mercy Grace Pride, one of Mary Pride’s own daughters. When I posted something on Facebook criticizing this New York Times article on Mary Pride, a woman often described as a “homeschooling guru,” an anti-feminist, and a pioneer among Christian Quiverfull mothers, I did not even expect it to be reposted in a place where people were all that familiar with the issue. Nonetheless, it was passed on and soon reminded me that it’s a small world and the homeschooling world is even smaller.
In the middle of some online snarking by a few ladies all agreeing with one another that Mary Pride’s teaching is repulsive and harmful, enter the 24 year old daughter of said woman who, as it turns out, agrees with her Mom on a number of key points.
Initially this conversation didn’t seem like it could go anywhere but a bad place. In fact, I’m still kind of surprised it didn’t. After all, I believe that my family’s acceptance of Mary Pride’s teachings contributed to the dysfunction and eventual dissolution of my parents’ marriage and the traumatic home experiences that my siblings and I had. I’d also just written a letter to New York Times journalist Mark Oppenheimer criticizing his Mary Pride article as being lopsided, and referencing Libby Anne’s list of survivor blogs. Mercy, on the other hand, loves and respects her Mom and, being recently engaged, expects to soon be a Quiverfull wife and mother herself.
So what more fraught and emotional subject could there really be for us two to discuss?
Luckily, homeschoolers are perhaps a bit more comfortable than the average person with awkward social moments. There was no cat fight, no insults, and ultimately no hard feelings. Instead Mercy and I ended up having a respectful debate, and while we did not ignore our emotions, downplay our perspectives, or come to any sort of agreement, we were not awful to each other.
I guess here’s where I could include some tropes about overcoming differences, agreeing to disagree, the importance of dialogue, and how it all boils down to recognizing the humanity of others, but the truth is I don’t need to. All that cliche’d stuff is pretty obvious. We all know the value inherent in it for other people’s situations, other people’s issues, but it’s still something we generally avoid for ourselves. Why? Well, what we often want to say is “Us: 100%. Opposition: Zero,” but if we talk openly with the other side then we have to be ready for a complex picture that we might just not know quite what to do with.
Mercy has given me permission to share our conversation here, so I ask you to be as respectful in your comments as she and I tried to be in ours.
Condensed and edited.
MGP [responding to all the snark]: What do you have against Mary Pride?
Yes I am [Mary Pride’s daughter], and I’m sorry that you had such an experience. I was also homeschooled and actually, I enjoyed it and ended up graduating earlier as a result. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it really does put a strain on your family, but my mother wasn’t the cause of that. She wrote her book as a result of what she had experienced as a feminist before she became a Christian. She saw how the feminist movement was ruining the family structure in America and she was just encouraging women that felt forced to work that they didn’t have to work. “The Way Home” was about trying to show women they had a choice. It was to urge them not to trap them.
Me: I don’t mean to insult anybody’s Mom, but I think that Mary Pride, as a public figure and author, contributed to the harm that occurred in my family, which was bad enough for me to develop PTSD. It’s the extreme patriarchal lifestyle that puts people in a box – homeschooling in and of itself doesn’t. Because Mary Pride directly contributed to that pressure, your characterization of the lifestyle she advocated as being a choice surprises me. Things are only choices if there are alternative options and as far as I know, she didn’t present any and vilified the ones on the table as being unchristian. I see how her perspective gained traction because there were some hiccups in the move towards more egalitarian lifestyles (heck, there still are) but I honestly think the stuff she promoted was a knee-jerk reaction backwards to second-class citizenship for women, and that’s what her extra-familial legacy so far has been. I am glad for your sake to hear the intra-familial one was better.
MGP [responding to me and another commenter about Mary Pride’s opposition to “the 3 B’s” – bottles, baby-sitters, and birth control]: Well, breastfeeding has been proven to be healthier for your babies, and back then the formulas weren’t refined like they are now. If you breastfeed your baby, your baby gets a natural immunity to any disease you’ve contracted which helps your baby not get sick.
There’s nothing wrong with submitting to your husband. There’s a difference between submitting and bowing to. Submitting to your husband has to do with giving him respect and consulting with him on decisions. It doesn’t mean that the house is a patriarchy. A marriage is about a husband and wife banded together as a team and working as a team towards a common mission. If your husband is being a horrible person and not trying to do something positive towards the family, then it’s the wife’s job to oppose and advise her husband.
Maybe it seemed like my mother was pushing instead of advising, but ultimately, it was just advice. Please also take into account my mother’s youth. This was written back when she was still learning about Christianity and what the Bible says. Therefore, she could have phrased things a little differently, and she admits this as she looks back. LIfe is about growing and changing. My mother never said that the house should be a patriarchy, nor did she mean it should be. Our own house is a prime example of that.
Me: Mercy, I agree that there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding, homeschooling, giving lots of early childhood attention, etc. and a lot of positive attributes to potentially be gained. However, I do think there is a problem with having more babies than you can realistically support, having gender be used to subordinate someone, and the “obedience training” often used to raise kids to follow in these footsteps.
I truly believe that when set up in real life this stuff gets pretty ugly most of the time. If a husband becomes abusive, or depressed, or out of work, (or all 3, like my Dad) she’s stuck because she’s got 9 children, hasn’t had a job in years (or maybe ever) and is scared to death of the “feminist” world out there. Then what?
I get that your Mom being young and idealistic back then had an impact, but she hasn’t publicly repudiated or revised her position as far as I know and women are still following it and still getting stuck like how my Mom did, or being born into such a mess, like I did. I think because your Mom wrote the books and had a voice and an income she never ended up as powerless as my Mom did listening to the words in those books and taking them to heart. I would never wish that kind of life for either one of us.
MGP: Well, my mother was a home mother who worked out of the home and raised us at the same time. “The Way Home” and “All the Way Home” is about returning to raising your children. I plan to homeschool my own children, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked on getting my education. I’m certified as a nurse so I can get a job if need be.
My mother has never tried to “subvert” us to follow in her foot steps. She has always allowed us to decide what job we wanted to pursue. If we didn’t have a path, she looked at our personality and suggested a possible path. Raising a child is not about trapping them into what YOU want them to do, but rather to nurture them so they can find their own path. My mother practiced what she preached.
As to lots of children, I believe that the more children you have, the easier it actually is to raise them. My older siblings were a great help in my education. My older sister taught me to write my name and pushed me to learn how to read. My very first book that I read all the way through was a comic book. I ended up loving to read thanks to my older sister making it seem fun when I was young.
An abusive and depressed husband is a hard thing to deal with. I’m not sure what fell apart in your parent’s marriage. However, I know if when my fiancé and I get married that he can’t find a job still (because he is now looking) that I can support and help him in finding a new job. Also, when he’s depressed, I can offer advice and if he ever turns to drink, I will take that drink away. This is my personal stand on abusive husbands. I won’t let my gentle Alex ever resort to such things. Our marriage is formed in trust and stands on the Bible.
Me: I’m glad you had support in choosing nursing. My “approved path” was confined to “housewife” and I am so glad to have escaped those limiting influences and gone for my master’s degree in public policy. I think it’s good you have a “back up plan” of sorts and I hope your upcoming marriage brings you fulfillment and healthy babies, as it is obvious you are truly in love and that is what you want. Your description of how you want to be a supportive wife also sounds nice to me, as is your description of learning how to read on your own terms.
I find it’s the underlying dominant and subordinate roles that rear an ugly head and end up destroying this pretty picture, along with the exhaustive self-imposed routine of “what’s best” (not even getting into all the different interpretations of what’s actually “biblical”). What does a woman do if her husband stops respecting what she wants (no matter how submissive and comforting she tries to be), she’s exhausted with all the on-demand nursing, washing out poopy cloth diapers, answering the home business phone, constant cooking, worrying about bills, attempting to homeschool, and expecting yet another little one because birth control is forbidden? She starts developing insomnia, a quick temper, bouts of inexplicable crying, letting things go, fears she’s failing God himself, emotionally imploding. That’s what happened to my parents’ marriage.
Personally, I see egalitarian marriages with a “dual earner, dual carer” model as the best chance and when I do have my own children (I’m 29, married for 6 yrs, but not quite ready for motherhood) that is what I want. Also, I like big families too but will keep mine smaller. As the eldest of 10 I never got to be a kid myself and I won’t do that to my own kids. I think what women of our generation actually need is not a return to the wife role of 100 years ago but to make caregiving less gendered and more appreciated, get fathers more actively engaged in childrearing activities, and restructure workplaces so both women and men aren’t making unnecessary tradeoffs between work and family.
MGP: My mother based [her views on headship and submission] off the Bible verse in Ephesians:
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (Ephesians 5:22-29)
You’re submitting as “unto the Lord.” Which means that you consult with him first before making decisions.
He’s supposed to love his wife “as (his) own bod(y)” which means that he treats his wife with respect and “cherisheth” her.
When I say it’s easier, I mean when children are small, hand-me-downs take care of a lot of the clothes. The children do help each other out, but ultimately, in our case at least, it was mom and dad who taught us and disciplined us when we needed it. I was taught by my siblings as well, but none of us feel like mom and dad didn’t give us attention. It helped that they worked out of the home so if we had a problem all we had to do was go upstairs. 😀
Me: I agree that “economies of scale” mean raising 8 children isn’t much different from 6 materially, but it does dilute parental time and resources, putting picking up the slack on the oldest daughters’ shoulders. For some time I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids, feeling I’d already been there done that. It’s probably why I’m still not ready yet even though I love kids. I’ve never had “baby fever” as it was pretty much nipped in the bud.
Also, I don’t buy a lot of those direct quotes from the bible, feeling they are cherry-picked and taken out of historical context. We are not the property of our husbands. The bible used to be used to support slavery too you know, and my Dad even threatened me that if I hit him back, he could kill me because of a bible verse on it. At some point you’ve gotta use common sense and say enough is enough. I believe that stuff is spiritual abuse.
Anyway, I wanted to say I appreciate the unexpected calm, honest conversation we’ve been able to have on a controversial and intensely personal topic. I think the composed tone you’ve set says a lot about you and I respect it.
MGP: I also appreciate the calm conversation we’ve been able to have. 🙂
Okay, well. There’s not much more I can say so I’ll leave you with a video that I hope makes you laugh. 🙂
Her mom still had a career while writing that women shouldn’t have careers. Yet Mercy’s been taught to have a career (nursing IS a career) and to make her own choices?? That sounds a bit hypocritical to me.
Not at all. As I said above, my mother wrote about “returning to the home and raising your children.” My mother worked out of the home. She was able to raise us and be at home.
That’s still a career. A career isn’t just something that is outside of the house.
Another thing is that you are too close to the situation to see how your mom influenced the lives of women in the Quiverful and Christian Patriarchy movements. How did hundreds of women get your mom’s words so wrong that they ended up living in abusive situations? Only so many people can misinterpret or misunderstand before the original work becomes highly suspect.
There was at least a whole chapter in All the Way Home (Mary Pride”s book) about women having home businesses. She was a huge champion of women being entrepreneurs, not slaves to the workplace where women are paid 30% less than men. Have you read her books and magazine articles before forming your opinions?
My mother was very influenced (or at least very afirmed) by Mary Pride’s books–we lived the “quiverful/homeschooling/women be stay at home wives/mothers/no other choices in life” way of life to the full. And yes, it was abusive and degrading and I am glad to have left that way of life far, far behind. Though we had those books on our shelves and my mother read them often, I never did pick them up. Very interesting seeing Mercy’s take on her mother’s books/teaching. Now I am curious to read the books for myself to see if I can see what Mercy says is in them. I’ve only heard negative things about them from women who were in that movement and left.
Great conversation. It is good that she will be able to work as many women simple do not. I also believe that women should be given choices. If she wants to work, she may. If she wants to stay home, she may. That’s where i ultimately still disagree with the Quiverfull lifestyle; it tells women which is the most godly route and doesn’t take in effect different personalities or economic circumstances.
Speaking of a small world homeschool world, a couple days ago I was on a friend’s facebook page. Said friend still very heavily believes in patriarchal teachings, in a much more direct way than Mercy does. I had to be careful in not quoting Brain Ray back (she had quoted his statistics on homeschooling academics) and Mike Farris simply because I didn’t want to get in an argument with their children as she is personal friends with pretty much all of the famous homeschool kids. Of course, I like Brain Ray a great deal as a person, and had lunch with him about four years ago. But they aren’t accurate, and even if they were, not a fair comparison to public education since most homeschoolers come from middle class or educated families. (The only reason my family lived below poverty level was because of our homeschool lifestyle. Our mindset and my dad’s job and our neighborhood were still middle class.)
I totally agree with you here Lana and I feel the exact same way about Quiverfull and choices regarding motherhood.
Your story made me laugh and also think because I obviously don’t want to say anything mean about somebody’s parents’ either, but I have strong feelings about Michael Farris’ homeschooling deregulation activism and the poor quality of data being passed off as legitimate by Brian Ray’s National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). In my research I saw how the work they have done has chipped away at children’s rights (which were already precarious) and I will speak out against it.
I guess I never considered how the (numerous) kids of these people would feel because aside from belonging to a CHEF homeschoolers group from age 11-13, I was very isolated and because we never went to conferences, we never ran into any of them. My family every now and then got together with other local homeschooling families I now realize were Quiverfull, but nobody who was too big in the movement.
I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings but I also think that there are worse things than hurt feelings, and that’s actual hurt people, people who are continuing to be marginalized or treated like they somehow don’t count because others are reluctant to challenge the status quo in order to help. So I guess what I’m saying is as awkward as it might be, I don’t intend to change my outspoken ways!
As a homeschooling mom for 25 years (six kids) I am going to say something really unpopular (I am sorta too old to care about disagreement. After two kids with cancer…one still battling…and some seasons of an extremely bad marriage from my husband’s battle with addictions.. rehab…marital splits…operations…etc. .I have seen much harder places than an internet debate or disagreement…but teachings like Mary’s that are hard core against divorce helped me to stay against every single counselor and adviser…I just could not deny what God says about remarriage and for the sake of my children who learned to love the unloveable and pray for someone you clearly aren’t lovin’ on during that season the fruit has been better than if I had left and how I longed to)….I do think Mary Pride’s writings were revealing…in a good way because they caused me to pause and reflect (some will reflect it’s wrong…and of that subgroup some will be very hurt…and some…like moi….mull it over…passionately grabbed some…rejected others….then gave the books away for others to do the same. Anyone who follows it to the nth degree without going to God and seeking wisdom in the multitude of counselors is naive. And, yes, I was naive. I took her words and went off birth control and much to my everlasting delight I have six children. And, yes, I took submission to the point of obedience above Christ himself. My fault! Yet, this thread is so …well…..bloody well interesting! Ha! Mary Pride voiced her opinion…strongly, indeed…but we are each accountable for our own lack of wisdom…and for our words and actions. I would agree there are false teachers out there….but it’s all so relative….the opinions often fascinate me when done within a proper framework as we witnessed here (although, whoever is posting about the career seems a bit sour grapish. Mary stayed home and had a home business. I don’t see the complaint as having a foundation and probably shouldn’t even have put in my own interjection). There is so much in her teachings to disagree on and discuss in humility that this just seemed a like a personal gripe.
So a kudos to the two ladies who were able to truly communicate here. I think you both came off as ladies who can think and know how to differ…and I think your moms did a very good job teaching you. I will say amidst all the adversity in my home my kids can deal with almost anything that comes their way. They are good writers…because God knows we gave them plenty of fodder to write about:)
Thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences. I wish your child a healthy recovery from cancer, and I’m glad you liked the debate post.
I’m going to say something controversial and rather blunt in response to what you said, including a story of two divorces with happy endings.
First, I do not believe life is about shouldering a lifelong burden of broken relationships or that that is what is asked of us. It is about maintaining the good ones, trying our best to keep them good, and being brave enough to both give people second chances and remove ourselves from a toxic situation when it’s clear someone isn’t taking them. A lot of the details in that boils down to a judgement call, but when all the loved ones in your life are telling you a relationship isn’t good for you (or conversely, are saying you should stay when you know in your heart it is killing you bit by bit), I think it would be prudent to heed those voices and really consider it, not just sticking with one strict interpretation of the bible. It might be avoidance and fear rather than love or strength of faith keeping you there.
I understand that it is a human tendency to make what has actually happened to us more meaningful or purposeful (one study I’m thinking of found that when you pick one of six paintings as “yours” you find it more beautiful than the art options you have not claimed), but that does not mean we should preclude ourselves and other people from having choices or changing opinions.
I also think that when someone is doling out advice and it turns out to be harmful, the advice-giver certainly has just as much culpability as the advice taker, if not considerably more when the advice-taker is in a particularly vulnerable position. It’s a “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” type of thing.
When my parents finally divorced, the main emotion my siblings and I felt was relief. Then after my parents had had a couple years to overcome the guilt, upheaval, divorce process in a very conservative state, etc. they too felt relief. My younger sister also got a divorce from a cheating and addicted soldier. If she hadn’t chosen to love herself and her child enough to leave (and be strong enough to deal with the trauma of ending a marriage) she’d still be stuck with that mess rather than be married to the kind, well-educated, handsome, professional, and family-oriented man she met afterwards.
I don’t think we need to get in some mindset where relationships are disposable or get caught up in the idea of “the next best thing” and I am certainly not advocating for that. I believe in keeping commitments whenever possible but that in extenuating circumstances sometimes a contract must be broken.
I am not implying that this would have or should have been the outcome for your situation, as you obviously held steadfast to your beliefs and chose a different path that is meaningful to you. However, your path is your path and what I’m not okay with is when people push their choice on others as the only acceptable option. Personally, I am glad my parents and my sister chose a different one.
Also, it’s always awkward to point out that it wasn’t my mother that raised me right (if I have indeed been “raised right”) but it’s something I do on principle. It was my grandparents who deserve any credit for that, as they stepped in and rescued me and my siblings where my parents failed.
Patriarchal teaching made my marriage worse, not better. Only when I stopped buying into that lie did the possibility of things being better open up to us.
Step two was acknowledging that my husband’s behavior was in fact abusive. One HE accepted that and began to want to change, then there was hope. But he never would have accepted that his behavior was abusive or have been open to change if I was not prepared to leave him.
When I made my plans, I was kind and generous to both of us. I came up with a five year plan to becoming self-sufficient. This gave him plenty of time to change if he decided to go down that road.
And what a road it has been. Life Skills group therapy was a start, to help him unlearn the misogyny and childishness promoted in his family’s patriarchal system. Diagnosing his depression and getting medication was the next step. Somewhere in there he began treatment for sleep apnea. He started personal counseling for the PTSD he developed in response to the devastation of being the child of fundamentalist missionaries. Now four years down the road, he is happier than he has been since I met him.
He would still be miserable and mean, and I would still be miserable and with delusions of heroic martyrdom if we were still stuck in the fundamentalist notion that divorce is always wrong and that patriarchy was the real goal of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
Nope, real love was the goal of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Not religiosity, not intact marriages, but true agape love and people who live it everyday. Married or divorced, that is not the issue. It’s authentic love, which has to include loving yourself too much to stay in an abusive situation. Staying=accomodating abuse, another way of saying “enabling”.
An enabler does not truly love the addict/abuser. Love walks away when it is everyone’s best interests, because love seeks what is best for the other. It is never best for someone to have an enabler allowing them to avoid making the changes they need to make to have the best life they can. I love myself and my husband too much to have continued to enable him to live an unexamined life.
Peace and good will, SS
Hmm. First thought is, Mercy seems pretty cool. And second thought is, she’s also pretty lucky.
I agree on both counts. 🙂 I am also glad for her that if she decides this is still how she wants things after she gets married, she has the education to homeschool her kids, and if she later decides it isn’t the life for her she has the education to enter the workplace. Options are an awesome thing to have.
I don’t consider Mary Pride to be in the Patriarch movement judging by her column, Patriarchy Meet Matriarchy, which I think is a balanced viewpoint of the biblical roles.
I relate to Mary because I am a homeschool mom with an engineering degree that I never used. I had dual income parents and only one brother and it wasn’t any picnic either. My mom had to work because often my dad just wouldn’t. It was a tough situation that she didn’t choose. She had a degree from Clemson University in horticulture, which gets you an outside garden center type of job–very physical labor, but paid enough to feed us on.
I know of one couple where the husband treats his wife like a paycheck and she rarely see her kids for working so much. Her options are stick with it or divorce, which won’t really do much to change her life because she still will be working 60+ hours a week and paying all the bills.
There are many types of bondage out there. My homeschool folks I always hung out with had a saying “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” We had moms who worked out of the home, night shifts and part time, but they all put their kids first –that’s why they were homeschooling. Some in our group went to what they thought was a homeschool conference, but turned out to be a patriarchal – how to turn your family into a cult – kind of deal. They were kind of freaked but did say that they were efficient at cult formation.
While I appreciate you commenting I’ve got to say that what you’ve said seems all over the board to me so I don’t really know how to address it.
What Mercy and I mainly discussed was our differing perspectives on the “full quiver” lifestyle although I don’t think we could have done that without bringing up gender roles and the concept of male headship. It is intertwined.
I read the article you linked and although I was glad to see that Mary Pride has repudiated the idea of daughters learning to be “helpmeets” by serving their fathers (something I think other daughters who have left the Stay At Home Daughter movement rightly call emotional incest http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2012/04/emotional-incest-part-1-definitions/), I think she is still on the side of patriarchy. She gives lip service to it in this article even, saying that the home is the woman’s domain but the man is the one who gets the “final decision” and is the “tie breaker” in everything, including stuff pertaining to the home (even though she obviously thinks it’s a bad idea for him to meddle too much there).
I think the fact of having a penis and a wife should not automatically make you “in charge” of anything but yourself and when people insinuate that it should, that is patriarchy. I also think that assuming all women primarily want and should want dominion over a home sphere rather than a public one is misguided. Personally, I never wanted that. My interests lay elsewhere ever since I was a little girl.
As far as anyone not helping provide for their families in the way they agreed to or their partner expected them to, I can see how that would be hurtful and harmful to the marriage. It would leave anyone in a weird situation and they would have to make a tough personal decision as to whether they wanted to remain in the relationship or not. I think that is one of the hardest things in life and all married people struggle with unmet expectations at some point or another. I think this situation is made worse when these roles are based on gender stereotypes of “man” and “woman” rather than real live individual people though. It certainly was for my parents.
As I said before, I have nothing against women getting engineering degrees and then staying home with their kids. I also have nothing against women who have kids and decide to get an engineering degree and work as an engineer. I think both are worthy of respect.
What I have a problem with is when people quote a higher power to try and take this choice off the table for women, to make all the other choices beside the one they themselves have chosen seem like they are not really actual decent choices at all. Whether Mary Pride meant to do that or not, I think that is in fact what she did for many women who looked to her for guidance, including my mother.
Mercy, if you are still reading this, I urge you to go and start practicing nursing NOW, and continue to work part time when you have children, even if only once a week or a couple hours a day (eg as a home visiting nurse). If you are out of the workforce for 10 years and suddenly want to go back, you will not be a very attractice candidate for most employers. You may require retraining as well. Just a suggestion from another nurse.
I was so glad to read this conversation. I read “The Way Home” while expecting my first baby. I had many questions about godly parenting. While it opened my mind to many issues, it did mess me up for a long time. I find myself wishing I hadn’t read it. More over, I was so influenced by friends who were “Priders”. I would have raised my children differently and would have, truth-be-told, enjoyed my sex life more without Mary’s edict of “no birth control” hanging over my head all the time. Pride really instilled guilt, guilt, guilt in me.
Well, would’ve, should’ve could’ve, right? By God’s grace alone my kids are all godly, independent, well educated kids (two boys and a girl). But I have many regrets.
I was glad to read Mercy say that even Mary thinks she should’ve worded some things differently. And the reference Mercy makes to her mother’s youth is comforting to me. It’s rather freeing.
What has really struck me over the past five years or so is how many kids raised in “Pride” style home have walked away from faith and family. I give God thanks that in spite of Pride’s influence, my kids are still walking with the Lord and still love me and my husband.
Now, don’t get me started on Mike and Debbi Pearl. Thank the Lord I had the wisdom to immediately reject their abusive nonsense.
Good discussion, here. It makes me very, very thankful that I’ve never written a book giving biblical advice! The more I read about the extremes within the christian homeschool community (I am a homeschool mom whose husband, thank God, didn’t buy into the patriarchy idea), the more I am reminded that James teaches christians that not too many of us should jump into the role of teaching, “because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” That’s all… please delete my previous comment, which was longer. 🙂
Mary Pride did give people a choice: they can do it the way she described….or not. She didn’t go to their homes and force them! The problem is that people get carried away. They take somebody’s idea and run with it, often in their own way or even in a more extreme form than originally intended. Then they (or someone affected by them) blame the author of the original idea.
Mary Pride was breaking some barriers that needed to be broken; she might not have done it perfectly, but often the pioneers who go a different direction to get things back on track end up swinging a bit too far the other way. The fact is that for decades Christians had been drifting away from God’s perfect plan for us, and Mary Pride was brave enough to try to steer people back. He made us, He knows the way we function most effectively and are the happiest. Mary wrote her books to get us back to that plan, which will work when we do it all in love and by the Spirit, as he tells us in His Word.
If we follow a person only we will always be off track; if we allow a person to open our eyes to His way and follow Him we will always be on His good track. Mary wrote what she believed at the time, and apparently for the most part still does; it’s the reader’s responsibility to prayerfully weigh that against Scripture.
I do thank everyone for a calm and rational discussion!
What I learned: never ever ever ever ever ever ever underestimate the primacy of true conversion. My wife and I are considering these things as we begin our family (neither of us grew up in Gospel-centered homes), and it’s clear… It’s not just about “what is best” on the outside. This movement is overwhelmingly oppressive to any heart that has not been changed, because an unconverted heart still seeks to please self and not God. May God give grace to anyone applying these principles without the gospel to understand and believe the gospel, especially the children.
What you just said can be referred to as a “self-sealing argument.” The idea that “you won’t understand unless you are a believer” (and this is something I heard all the time growing up, often when outright ridiculous or awful decisions were being made) is a way to try and rationalize things that don’t make logical sense (and probably shouldn’t be happening) at the same time as shutting out and delegitimizing people who have a different perspective and are trying to bring the risks and pitfalls to your attention.
I don’t expect you to listen to me on this, but I still strongly suggest that you rethink your perspective on “the unconverted just don’t get it” idea and recognize that this is such a cultish mindset, you are using thought-stopping techniques, and as such have left yourselves very vulnerable to the kinds of things that plague authoritarian followers, namely a high risk of being exploited and used for ends that go against your own morals. This is what typically happens to people who are too caught up in being “true believers” following “the one good way.”
Hello Heather! Thank you for responding. I am very sorry for what happened to you, and the shame it brought on the name of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you misunderstood me. I would never say a person is incapable of understanding oppressive homeschool environments if they are not a believer, just the opposite. I would say those who are doing the oppressing fail to see the damage they are causing because they don’t understand the gospel. The cultish mindset you are referring to is produced by many who are driving the oppressive wing (for lack of a better term) of the homeschool movement. These individuals “desire to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Tim 1:7) In a vain attempt of self-preservation, they accuse individuals who do not conform to their (external, by the way) standards as simply “not getting it.”
I believe the gospel, and since I understand, love, and believe the gospel, I am in the best position to raise my child for two reasons. 1) The gospel is reality. God is real, and the Bible is true. We are a faith based society. Everyone places faith in something. I can either guide my child to invent his own reality (which is impossible, by the way), or I can teach him from the very beginning what is true and what is real. If I stop there, I will fail him, which makes the second tenet even more crucial. 2) The gospel frees me to love him regardless of the choices he makes. One of my joys as a parent is reminding my children as often as I can that I will ALWAYS love them, protect them, and support them regardless of what they believe or who they become. If the choices my son makes in his adult life make Adolf Hitler look like Mother Theresa, I will still love him, and I’ll make sure he knows I love him. I won’t support the terrible things he does (that’s not love), but I will do everything to provide for him, and reach out to him in compassion, grace, and mercy… why? because of the gospel. Without the gospel, I’m like everyone else… expecting the people around me to conform to MY standards, and MY expectations to get in my good graces (cf. your list of 25 things a partner must be…). The gospel releases me from that tyranny, and frees me to love unconditionally because I have been loved unconditionally. What did I do to deserve God’s mercy, love and forgiveness? nothing. Who am I, that Jesus Christ would shed his blood for me? No one. I don’t earn favor with God to gain his approval, and neither will my children. ever. God has provided everything I need through Christ, and since He has done that, He says “you were called to freedom… only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.” (Gal 5:13)
I hope that clears up any misunderstanding, and like I said before, I am truly sorry for what has happened to you, and I know it has happened to so many others. I can only pray that you, and the others who are victims of what this movement has done would see God for who He really is. A God who extends mercy and grace to a crooked and perverse generation.
very interesting. I too was negatively influenced by Mary Pride’s books. However, having done a wee bit of internet stalking of her and reading stuff her kids have written, I gotta say in practice, the woman got a lot of things right. Here’s the thing though: she wrote a book that was very dogmatic, very my way or the highway. Which isn’t actually how she comes off today. I looked at her facebook page and said to myself actually, this is a woman I can see myself hanging out with and chit chatting with. It’s a cautionary tale to all would be “Christian how-to” authors as to how devastating your words can be to somebody else’s life if you are not very, very careful to know exactly what you are telling people to do. I think a lot of her ideas worked out great for her. Maybe they didn’t work out so great for some other people, especially that no birth control bit. I have a feeling Mary might be a just a bit less dogmatic about her views today even if in general terms she still holds the same opinions. It’s also a cautionary tale for readers of Christian books (not just Mary’s. All of them) that in the end, they are really just someone else’s OPINION probably upheld by a fair amount of their own personal experience and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. I really don’t read many Christian books at all these days, and my early years as a Christian/wife/mother (they all kind of intersected at the same time) are the reason why. Between Mary Pride and Dr William Sears (aka attachment parenting), I was a freaking nervous wreck when I had my first child. These books and my taking them word for word seriously, as one should really only take the bible, were a factor in some marital issues. Not the only factor. Some of the issues were my husbands and not at all related to this package, but this gullibility where Christian authors claimed their way to be the only way was one of the worst things I brought to the table. So, in the interests of being a grace giving Christian, I can’t really blame Mary the way I used to because honestly, her and her tribe seem like actually pretty OK people and its hard to deny 9 kids turning out well. They must have done something right even if that something actually maybe wasn’t the stuff the Pride’s are well known for dogmatically. But geez people, learn a lesson. Go to GOD and not a Christian author. If you must read books, then take them with a grain of salt, take them as food for thought, but realize that they were written by fallible people who are capable of being very right about some things whilst being very, very wrong about others all at the same time. Got it?
All of this is somewhat saddening to me. People go to such extremes and sometimes blame one person or an author of a book to how their lifestyles turned out or how their childhood was. We have responsibility over our own lives, we have brains and we can weigh how we perceive what someone is teaching, and we also have discernment. This is why it’s so important to me to counsel young ladies BEFORE they get married on the type of man that they will marry, I personally grew up with a very strict father, but God has given me an amazing husband who loves the Lord, we are a team and we work together, I am a stay-at-home mom and I love it, I can work if I needed to and he would be okay with that, but for now we have chosen this road bc we know it’s what God has led us to do. We can’t blame someone for how our lives turned out, we have God to lead us and guide us, perhaps our parents didn’t do the right thing and went to extremes, but as adults we can grow up and stop blaming everybody. If you ended up in an abusive marriage, more than likely there were signs of that while dating and you still chose to marry, that’s not an authors fault nor God’s, that was your decision, and every decision brings it’s own consequences. Not all of us are in a godly fulfilling marriage, so that’s why it’s so important to me to lead younger people to make the best decision possible on who they marry so that they can live a Christ centered life with their spouse, not up marrying an abusive Patriarch! God’s will for marriage is spot on but the outcome comes before you decide who you marry. This is also why Mary prides daughter is happy and wants to homeschool her children herself, because she grew up in a stable marriage home and she’s making sure that her fiancé is a godly man before she says I do.
Mercy, if you’re still reading this I hope you are not still under the disillusion that you can simply “take it away” should your husband ever turn to drink. I hope you don’t believe that you could ever stop your husband from resorting to wrong things. You are not the Holy Spirit, dear. A marriage is a wonderful blessing but please know that you will not be your husband’s ‘all in all’. Many is the wife that has mistakenly believed that she could love her husband enough to prevent him from sinning. You are not his source. Don’t attempt to take God’s place.
Read that book 24 year ago at the urging of a friend, and it is the ONLY time my husband, and I have ever had a terrible night as a couple. We immediately got rid of the book the next morning, raised our kids in a free and happy home (and we homeschooled too but had a BLAST), and never looked back. Sorry. It was a terrible book, and I would never recommend it to anyone. I would have had a different life had I felt the need to conform to the legalism contained therein, but I had a follower of Jesus for several years by then, understood GRACE to the depths of my being (after having had a nervous breakdown due to legalism in 1983), and had a very secure husband who felt no need to be patriarchal! I have loved my life of grace and love JESUS. Listen to God and obey Him, not the voice of legalism of others who interpret Scripture incorrectly (By the way, I never had a “job” in or out of the home but have been blessed to write and disciple women in the way of grace – hey maybe I should write my own book about being a grace filled homeworker?) By the way, that friend who strongly recommended I read that book and was a “quiverfull” type had her kids go bezerk, and they totally reformed their ways and are walking in freedom too! FREEDOM baby!!! Freedom in Jesus!!!! Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving others. That is all we need to do!!!!
Found THE WAY HOME recently at a thrift store and was reminded of how much it impacted my life. I wonder if I would have homeschooled, had two of my four children at home, or for that matter….even had my youngest two. HA! Now that I’ve skimmed over the above comments, my first thought was not to like the attack Mary received for her book, her thoughts, her “putting it out there.” That only reveals the insecurity of the attackers. Thankfully, each of us is still able to not only HAVE opinions and convictions but also to discuss them. Mercy has obviously had great training in that regard. And…..my other thought was on Mercy’s comment about taking the drink from her husband should he decide to indulge; but someone finally did address that. My ex-husband had the tendency to medicate and my thoughts of taking anything from him did not work for him or me. But anyway, I have a feeling Mercy won’t have that problem…..but her comments did seem to include the thought that she could change or guide her husband’s behavior when it didn’t line up with her expectations. I am sure by now she realizes that a wife can’t be a mother…and how painful it can be to watch sometime. So when I recently passed the book on to my daughter-in-law, mother of two little girls, I was a little surprised to find that it resonated with her, hugely impacting her (except for the non-kinky sex chapter..ha…which I think she just threw out). Her response made me curious to google Mary and her family, and this was the first thing I found.
I followed the teaching in Mary Pride’s books because I thought she expressed well what I believed scripture taught. Children are a blessing and a reward from God….so to me, birth control just seemed to be counterintuitive. I have eleven wonderful children who are not mindless clones. They were all homeschooled because of what was being taught in public schools and my own bad childhood experiences in school. I wanted to be free to spend time with my kids and teach from a Biblical perspective.
Did life turn into a fairy tale? No, I was married to a narcissist as it seems some of the other women or moms here had. Narcissists look for loving, forgiving, compassionate people to prey on, so it is not uncommon for Christian women to be taken in with their charms. Regardless of family size, doctrine or anything else, life with a narcissist is not easy. It’s not easy being married to them. It’s not easy being divorced from them.
Was I trapped? I thought so at times, but God is a father to the fatherless and hears the woman in distress. I married at 16 without any education or work skills, but developed many while homeschooling. My husband and I did separate while I still had 6 children home and eventually divorced. My regrets? I regret marrying based on physical attraction and other superficial attributes rather than character.
I don’t regret having a large family. Having grandchildren really brings this home. If I had only had 2 children, 15 grandchildren would not exist. Our families are more than just for our personal fulfillment. Who knows how these grandchildren can influence the world for Christ? When we limit our families with b/c, we are also eliminating all future generations that would have come from those children….basically committing genocide.(It’s been a long time since I read Mary’s books but I think she taught something to this affect too, but I’m experiencing it now)
I don’t regret staying home with my kids and home schooling. They are in turn homeschooling their children too. I do wish I had taken time to complete a degree while my children were young and I was at home a lot, but back then, online learning was not a possibility. I am doing it now. It’s never too late. I’m missing out on having an established career and a well funded retirement fund, but those are just junk compared to family. Even acknowledging my many mistakes as a woman and mother, God has blessed me, My children love their brothers and sisters and couldn’t imagine life without each unique one,
Dear ones who think you have been hurt by this lifestyle, I want to tell you that the hurt comes from sin in this world. When men sin and women sin in return by placing husbands above God, life will not be good. It’s not the homeschooling, its not the big family. It’s just sin. Most of us who chose to have a large family thought it would be the cure for the loneliness that exists in many small, dysfunctional families of origin. Don’t believe that the grass is greener in small families or public school families. It isn’t. Been there, done that as a child. At the same time, I found that the cure for loneliness is a closer walk with my savior.
Hmm. I, like Donna, just stumbled upon this article. I was looking for something else. Full disclosure: I was an only, homeschooled child who has always admired Mary Pride. Not agreed with Mary Pride 100%. (Does any human being ever agree with any one other human being 100%?) But, admired her.
As I was growing up in my homeschool group of fun, funny, normal kids (I think maybe two families in our group had more than three kids and even those families didn’t seem much different from my own) my mom and I would make fun of ‘the denim brigade’ that we would sometime see at statewide conventions. I remember my mom going to one “Raising Kids God’s Way” class and coming home and telling my dad that the authors were crazy and cult-like and how did they know what God’s way was to raise her kid?
I never heard the word quiverful until I was an adult. I had no idea that there was a this whole movement afoot to take the beautiful Biblical teachings with which I had been raised and turn them into so much hurt and pain and sadness. Surprised by it, though, I was absolutely not. Satan will use whatever he can get his hands on and his #1 trick is to take the words of God and twist them. It’s the oldest one in the Book! “Did God really say…”
So, here is what I think about the patriarchy movement. Satan whispers, “Did God really say that the husband should love his wife as Christ? He also said that she should submit to him. That must mean that she should submit to him 100% no question.” And, Bam! A cult is born.
My pastor said this in a recent marriage series and I fully agree – we women do like a man with a plan. But, we normally veto it, too. 😉 I like for my husband to open the door and say, “Let’s sit on the right side of the theater.” But, should I remember that the air vent on that right side always makes me cold and veto that option, his number one priority should be to protect me – even from that damned cold air! Were he to ever, ever, ever say, “Well, I said right, woman, so sit” I would leave his butt so fast he wouldn’t see anything but a streak back out that door he just opened. But, that won’t happen because my amazing husband, flawed human being though he may be, is so committed to following the portion of the scriptures that says that he should love me as Christ does (even unto death) and he gets better and better at that every day. Just as I get better every day at remembering that just because he said to sit on the right and I prefer walking to the left doesn’t make the right side so bad (if that wretched air vent doesn’t exist!)
All of that to say that it is my certain feeling, especially after reading Mercy’s kind and considered comments here that Mary Pride understood this to be the meaning of scripture as well and that people will find anything – be it a Mary Pride book or a single scripture verse taken out of context or a rock – and use it to build strange cults and people will follow them. It is bizarre to me, but just reinforces my belief that this world is so in need of a savior and I am so glad that I know Him!
I rue the day that my fiance (now wife of nearly 30 years) first discovered Mary Pride. My fiance/wife allowed herself to be completely swept up in ‘Mary Pride thinking’, followed by many other ‘anti-birth control’ writers. My wife found the books refreshing as a college student in a reactionary way against the radical feminism in vogue on campus at the time (1980’s). Unfortunately, reacting radically opposite of another radical does not necessarily equate to “better” or wiser. My fiance, then wife, was transformed from someone who firmly believed in birth control and family planning to someone who would NOT have sex if birth control was used. The results nearly destroyed our marriage (and yielded 6 children in 7 years). It took me 7 years to get my wife to BEGIN to listen to reason and that our marriage and family was OURS and decisions about family size and timing of children should be discussed by she and I alone, and that ‘anti-birth control’ writers should have zero say in the matter. While I take full responsibility for going through with the marriage when my fiance was so radically transformed (I had no idea she had become so virulently anti-birth control until the week of our wedding), I do wish that she would have never stumbled upon Mary Pride’s book because our lives would probably have been much different and our marriage much happier. Thankfully we have been able to remain married for all of these years but our entire family has suffered emotionally and financially due to our foolishness as a couple (we had annual incomes ranging between $20K and $40K during all the years of raising our children and homeschooling them, as I was the lone breadwinner. We lived at or just above the poverty line. We survived but we certainly did not thrive nor succeed financially). Although I tried in vain to reason with my wife, my biggest mistake in hindsight was that I should have insisted that we see a marriage counselor together in order to get her to hear my side of argument, so that we could work together to establish our own family not follow the ideas of what Pride or any other writer had to say about how to run your household.