So Much More…than this provincial life?

One of the most influential books in the Quiverfull Patriarchy community has been So Much More, released by the Botkin sisters in 2005.

Thirteen years later, we examine this piece of literature: against the very Bible it purports to uphold.

Opening line:

“‘The world is a mess, and it’s our fault.’ This is one of the most important things our father has taught us over the years.”

Yes, we live in a fallen world because of mankind. All creation groans in anticipation of the return of Christ. But at the same time, we are the light of the world because of Him! He is why we can see the beauty amidst the horror, and look forward with hope even during our sorrow. The world started out “Good” according to its Maker, and someday it will be that way again: when the lion lays down with the lamb and tears no longer fall.

“God doesn’t call us to ‘find our place in this world’ but to wage war with a worldly culture that has declared war on God’s design….Christian girls can wage war with the world and win.”

What about “Go ye into all the world and teach them as I have commanded you” and “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son…”? The world is our mission field, where we are to shine the love of Jesus through our words and deeds. Oh yes, we wage war all right: we are to “Put on the full armor of God” to fight against the lies and schemes of the devil. He is our enemy. Not the lost souls crying out for love.

“Society has deteriorated, and they [friends] know it.” “It’s a cruel, vicious world out there for a girl.” “After high-school graduation they are left to fend for themselves in a dog-eat-dog world.” “What we see…is women being exploited by men to an extreme never before seen on such a wide scale in the West.” “The lifestyle and worldview we present is not merely theoretical. It was lived before, when women were much happier.”

Society has deteriorated from what? There is “nothing new under the sun” as Solomon wisely said. The same old sins have been around since the beginning of time, recycled over and over and slightly re-packaged by the old snake (he’s actually not very creative); the exploitation of women is one of his favorites. When in the past, pray tell, were women much happier? When they could neither vote nor own land, when a woman was not considered “Respectable” unless she was married, widowed, or a dutiful spinster daughter?

The precarious nature of being a woman in ye olden days, became startlingly clear as I read Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, made popular by the show Call the Midwife. Sister Monica Joan, the beloved and elderly nurse-midwife, recalled being a young woman during the late 1800’s. She had a favorite aunt who was married to an affluent man in London. One day she noticed that her aunt had disappeared from family life and society. No one had seen or heard from her in months, and her parents were very hush-hush when questioned. The uncle had grown tired of his wife, aging and barren as she was. Not wanting the bother and scandal of a divorce, he simply signed papers swearing to her insanity and had her locked away in a mental institution where she withered away and died. He was then free to upgrade to a newer model. He had complete power and control over his unfortunate wife, and no one could do anything about it.

I wept as I read this story.

This. This was why the women marched for their -our- rights, in what the Botkins call “the feminist mistake.”

Now, for sure, not every man in the 1800’s -or any point in time- was like Monica Joan’s heartless uncle. Many a woman had a kind, gentle, husband who genuinely cared for her and met her needs: a “benevolent dictator” of sorts. But what if your dictator -be it father or husband- was cruel? What were your options? (Hint: Not great!)

“Every woman’s life is built around men and men’s role and leadership in some way. ” “Being companions and helpers is…what we were actually created for.” “It’s not something we can get away from, even by choice.” “Even before the fall, there was an order–a hierarchy of authority–established by God. This order states that man is the authority over the woman and is supposed to lead her.” “The reason for her submission to him is not a result of the fall, or of our now sinful natures.”

And here we have it: the very foundation, the crux of the Stay at Home Daughter movement.

In the beginning, God “created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) He commissioned them together, to care for the garden side by side, in blissful unity, which they did…….until the Fall: “In pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16)

The age-old power struggle between men and women, “Militant Feminism” (the kind that hates the male species altogether) versus Militant Chauvinism: this was born during the curse, when sin entered the world. Mankind was doomed to thorns, agonizing childbirth, gender wars, sorrow, and death.

This is why we needed a Savior.

The blood of Jesus broke the curse! If we accept the grace that He holds out lovingly to us, we need no longer live under it. Yes, our world is still fallen for now; but we get to live in the freedom that is Christ.

What the teachings of this book propose, is to put us back under the curse.

“As we stated before, every woman is, by nature, a man’s helper.” “Our God-given mission is to help our fathers (or husbands) fulfill their God-given mission.” “Man is fitted, qualified, and created for taking dominion in the storms of public life; we as women are ordained by God to occupy and keep the domain of the home.” “Men, created as they were to need helpers, need our help in order to be real men.”

So, what does the infamous word “helpmeet” really mean?

It was originally translated from the Hebrew Ezer kenegdo, which conveys a “Power or strength corresponding to him” or “Sustainer beside him.” The other uses of ezer in the Bible refer to God when He championed His people in battle.

An ezer is not an obsequious little maidservant fetching her master’s slippers. Think more along the lines of Lord of the Rings’ Eowyn, as she fought with monstrous enemies alongside her menfolk on the battlefield:

A sword rang as it was drawn. 

[Eowyn said] “Begone, foul…lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”

A cold voice answered, “…Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman.”….the helm..had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale and gold upon her shoulders…she did not blench, maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings..fair yet terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly.

So… “helpmeet?” As The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya said, “Why do you keep using that word? I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“But a husband is the head of his wife, like Jesus is the Head of the church!” Yes. The same Jesus -fully God, and King of the world!- who got on His hands and knees and washed His disciples’ feet like a servant. He said that a husband is to love his wife sacrificially, as his own body, and to “submit yourselves one to another.” (John 13; Eph. 5) We are all called to be servants; it is what our Savior modeled to us.

“Why your daddy needs you” “I want to be a true helpmeet to my husband, and what an excellent opportunity I have to practice this with my own father!” “‘Do you get your father’s slippers for him?'” “You came over, untied my [Daddy’s] shoes and slipped them off, as you often have. You then went over to our guest…’would you like for me to untie your shoes?'” “‘If he, [Daddy] for instance, has a preference in colors that I wear, I seek to honor him by finding that out and dressing in a way that would please him.'” “‘My position as a daughter is to be feminine and content with whatever my father does, and in being feminine, I can help my father in his masculinity and can give him confidence by being confident in whatever he says or does.'” “You…should never resist your father’s authority…do you make it clear to him that you are a woman of virtue, worthy of his special protection?”

These statements reek of emotional incest; the Bible never calls daughters to be helpmeets to their fathers. Did the boys also untie their guests’ and Daddy’s shoes, or was it only the girls? An environment like this is conducive to all kinds of perversion, which tragically has taken place in many families in this community.

“One thing we never see in the Bible is women working in missions organizations or any first-century equivalent.” “We believe that most gifts God gives to women can be developed and used, in some way, for His glory. But we can’t let them lead us into fields that are off-limits to us. Just because a woman might be brilliantly talented in business affairs doesn’t mean she should be the CEO of a giant corporation…regardless of interests or talents, there are some roles that women aren’t meant to assume.”

Just because the Bible tells us a story, does not mean we are necessarily meant to emulate it. Conversely, if something is not in the Bible, that does not necessarily mean it is forbidden. Rahab, who is in the genealogy of Jesus and the Hebrews Hall of Faith, was a prostitute. Does this mean we should start streetwalking and fornicating for money? Of course not! It is equally as ludicrous to claim that women should not be missionaries, CEOs, pilots, etc. just because they were not in the Bible.

“Our hearts can be desperately selfish and darkly deceitful.” “We have no ‘selves’ that are worth being loyal to. Much of what makes up our natural personalities and the state of our hearts is dictated by our sin natures.” “We blaspheme God’s grace by continuing to act like ‘ourselves’ (sinful pagans).” “By self-denial, we mean…denying that you have a ‘self.'”

You would disrespect your precious “self” that God fearfully and wonderfully made? The woman He bought with a price and redeemed? To do so would be to dishonor the Creator’s masterpiece, and the sacrifice His son made for you on the cross. True self-denial means “taking up your cross:” shouldering your responsibilities daily and watching your heart shine more and more beautifully as you follow Him on the sanctification journey.

“It is impossible to over-emphasize the biblical importance of a unit [family]…” “God set up society to be made up of family dynasties…” “A real family is a self-sufficient, fully functioning economically viable agent for the dominion of God.” “In working together every year, we grow closer together…I’m [Daddy] trying to find things for you [daughters] to do that will perfect and complete your training while at the same time strengthen the estate we have begun to build together.” “Be men at all times. Lead spiritually, as patriarchs, beginning in the home…fathers must develop a vision for what a daughter means in the grand order of God’s design.”

It is entirely possible to take a good thing and turn it into an idol. Many parents have done this with the family “unit,” insisting that their adult sons and daughters live nearby, on a large commune-style tract of land (like the authoresses’ family), all partaking in the “Family Vision/Business.” Where does this leave room for the call of God in each person’s life? What arrogance of the parents, to presume to tell each adult child which road they shall travel! Why do they get to decide when the “Family Vision” started? Are the mother and father each obeying their respective parents’ directives?

“There is a lot of Marxist thinking everywhere in Western society because it is now the dominant worldview.” “Practically every person in the West today, including nearly all young women, look at the world through Karl Marx’s eyes.” “Many of these worldview issues were explained to us by our father, who was a Marxist before he became a Christian, and understands the Marxist mindset very thoroughly.” “The idea of women going out into the sphere of public industry…was pushed by God-hating Marxists who wanted to keep woman out of her natural element, tear the family apart, and destroy Christianity.”

The ghost of Karl Marx is among us! Bewaaaaaaare. Again, with Solomon: There is nothing new under the sun. The devil was up to his schemes long before and after Karl Marx ever existed. Did he use the old boy to spread the lies and bondage of Communism over the earth? Sure, he probably did. But to pin all of modern society’s woes on one man, is just a little over the top….even paranoid. Speaking of Communism, if you look at it closely, what do you see? A rigid dictator, a controlling government, an oppressed people only allowed to operate within a certain sphere. Sounds an awful lot like the lifestyle endorsed by this book, as though these ladies’ father took all that he learned from his ‘Marxist’ days and implemented it into his own family. Familial Communism. Has a cheery ring to it, don’t you think?



2 thoughts on “So Much More…than this provincial life?

  1. As an ATI girl (not Vision Forum) and married five years when this book came out, I just barely missed it. Thank God I did (and I mean that prayerfully). The quotes make so incredibly sad. Well, when they’re not setting my snark meter off the charts.

    “…do you make it clear to him that you are a woman of virtue, worthy of his special protection?” I’m realizing more and more how much our society, especially in those past “happier” times, was built on the idea that only certain women deserved protection. The ones who behaved the right way and walked the line for the men — the “ladies” — they were the ones who could expect respectful behavior. But “women” or “females” didn’t meet whatever the standards of virtue were, so they did not deserve protection. The thought that as a daughter I should have to prove my worth to my father is absolutely abominable (and definitely not the way my stepdad operated).

    Their dad is obviously a creeper. But he’s presented as good, therefore teaching actual good fathers to twist their own goodness into something perverse.

    Your conclusion is very insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, friend. ❤
    I attempted to read this book as I sat nursing my first baby girl in early 2006; my parents felt compelled to send it to me somehow, though I was already a married woman with a newborn.
    That "worthy of his protection" line—my heart broke. How can any parent who has experienced the beautiful grace of God, not give their children unconditional love and protection?


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