After posting the article, Fathers and Daughters: Who Owns a Daughter's Heart?, it opened up a can of worms for Hannah, my 25-year old daughter. For new readers, she's my daughter who was also named in the defamation lawsuit by our former pastor (you can read her story from her perspective: Hannah's Personal Story in Her Own Words and from my perspective: In Honor of Hannah). She abruptly left our home at the age of 21 because she couldn't deal with the spiritual abuse at our former church any longer and knew we would make her go to church if she remained at home - it’s a long and sad story, my relationship with Hannah is great now. She mentioned that the video clip from the movie, Courageous made her get teary-eyed. I asked if she had anything she might like to share about her purity ring experience.
Before we get to Hannah's thoughts, she refers to the "umbrella" philosophy in her story. This is a teaching that came from Bill Gothard - a man whose teachings have strongly influenced the homeschooling movement (and our family):
The use of an umbrella to symbolize protection is commonly understood and accepted. In the insurance industry, an overall coverage of protection is referred to as an “umbrella policy.” In the Bible, similar symbols teach the concepts of provision, protection, headship, and leadership.The use of this symbol in relation to the family is to give special encouragement to fathers to protect, instruct, lead, and provide for their wives, sons, and daughters. It is also to remind the family that no father is perfect, but as they pray for him and encourage him, they can increase his ability and motivation to fulfill his God-given responsibilities.In addition to the father, Scripture has other umbrella analogies: The cloud of protection that God gave to Israel during their forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21–22), the shadow of God’s hand over His people (Isaiah 51:15–16), “the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1), and the wings of a mother hen (Matthew 23:37).Understanding the umbrella concept increases our love for God and assures us of His love, protection, and provision for us as His children.
Ok, I just yanked Research in Principles of Life Basic Seminar Textbook off the bookshelf. I have been tempted to throw this book away many times, but decided to keep it for blogging material - HA!
This is the workbook from Gothard's Basic Seminar which was very popular over the years, not only in homeschooling circles, but among Christians in general. It was dusty and I haven't opened it since I heard the teaching around 18 years ago. This should give some ideas about the teachings of authorities and young adults. The expectation is for daughters to remain at home until dad can pass her off to her new authority - her new husband.
"When does the parental "chain of responsibility" end?
The parental "chain of responsibility" ends when they delegate that authority to someone else - as in marriage or the ministry. However, even before this, a certain measure of independence should be earned by learning to discern and obey the wishes of parents. When they are confident that we will do what they would do in a given situation, they will give more freedom to make decisions.
What if I'm an adult and still single?
By this time, we should have earned the position of being in a "chain of counsel." If we haven't, there must be some serious deficiencies in our attitudes or understanding.
Whatever our age, however, we are instructed in Scripture to always be responsive to our parents' counsel: "Hearken unto they father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old." Proverbs 23:22
What if I'm single and living in an apartment?
First, be very sure that God has led you to move away from your parents, and that they were fully in harmony with the move. When God designed the family structure, He purposed that each one in the family meet basic needs for others - especially social needs. When a single person leaves his family apart from God's direction, he exposes himself to many unnecessary temptations to wrongly fulfill these social needs. If your parents are in full harmony with your move to another location, it is important to maintain good lines of communication with them in order to receive counsel from them.
What if I don't respect the authority over me?
It is important that we learn how to distinguish between an authority's position under God and his human personality. We are to reverence his position, although at the same time we may be very aware of personality deficiencies.
To say that we reject an authority because we don't respect him would be as much in error as tearing up a speeding ticket because we didn't like the attitude of the arresting officer.
If you'd like to read more stories from people who have gone through years of Gothard's teachings, be sure to check out Recovering Grace website, "a Gothard generation shines light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI." By the way, ATI is the same program that the Duggard family uses for teaching their children - the Duggards are the famous quiver-full family on TLC television with 19 kids.
Here is Hannah's purity ring story. There are no real bells and whistles, but it's interesting to read her perspective now - nearly a decade later.
From my perspective looking back, we were trying something different than how we were raised to hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls we had experienced as teens/young adults. I don't think modern day "recreational dating" where couples go out spontaneously with "sexperimentation" is an ideal situation. I think we were hoping courtship would be a healthier way to find one's life partner. The courtship model we appreciated involved getting to know potential suiters, having them over, working on projects together, spending time with the family to see how he interacted with younger siblings, etc. I still think a lot of this is important, but I am not convinced that courting is the ideal way anymore. I think it made Hannah feel confined and I especially do not agree with the father having ownership of his daughter's heart. I think I could type up a post or two on just that topic alone.
Another thing that the purity ring/courtship emphasis did was created real boundaries between guys and girls. The ring represented that she was taken (by her father) and so any guy who saw a ring on her finger kept his distance. I noticed some uneasiness of teens when they were in a group setting that I never experienced in high school. I can only think that comes from the rigid boundaries.
Interestingly, our other daughter who is now 18 years old does not have a purity ring and we have not discussed courtship with her. She is equally comfortable hanging out and talking with guys or girls.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/atillavibes/3944865367/">Atilla1000</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>