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“Taking Her Myself” A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship & Betrothal


Guest post by Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering.

Does God Hate Women? author Ophelia Benson shared a note written by a young patriarch describing his “biblical marriage.”:

As Bible-believing Baptists who hold to reformed theology, X and I believe that God is sovereign in choosing who will or will not believe in him, having chosen his people before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1), and that his selection is unbreakable and irresistible. If marriage is to mirror this principle, we believe that a woman has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man and marriage is to be an unbreakable arrangement between the man and her father. Based on this reasoning, we have shunned a standard proposal and wedding ceremony, because if I had asked her to marry me (which I did not) then I would have given her the decision to marry me rather than selecting her and taking her myself. Furthermore, if we had exchanged conventional marriage vows, our union would have been based on X’s will and consent, which are not Biblical factors for marriage or salvation. Instead, I asked X’s father for his blessing in taking her hand in marriage. When he gave his blessing, X and I considered ourselves to be unbreakably betrothed in the sight of God. While we had initially intended to consummate our marriage after today’s symbolic ceremony, we instead did so secretly after private scripture reading, prayer, and mutual foot-washing.

As Quiverfull Believers dig ever-deeper into their Bibles in search of the truly “biblical model” for godly marriage, ideas about courtship and “betrothal” are becoming increasingly savage and brutish.  It would seem unlikely that Courtship standards could get even more oppressive considering that Christian notions of “biblical match-making” have already been taken to outrageous extremes.

Joshua Harris started a back-to-bible-living revolution among Christian young people when he advocated the courtship model in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. What – no dating for teens? Now that’s a radical concept! As “bible believers” jumped on the bandwagon of father-led pairing of qualified young men and women in serious pursuit of marriage, popular Quiverfull patriarchs took biblical courtship to a new level of paternal domination as they pointed to Old Testament examples of “betrothal” as the very best way to ensure the future success of Christian marriage.

Jonathan Lindvall, teaching “God’s Design for Youthful Romance,” cited the betrothal of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman (link no longer active) as an ideal example of a “true romantic betrothal.”  Lindvall describes the crazy-making process by which Maranatha’s father, Stan Owen, orchestrated a year-long betrothal which was to be a “demonstration of Christ’s coming for His bride” based on the parable of the Ten Virgins.

Mr. Owen still faithfully directed both Matthew and Maranatha to avoid physical affection until their wedding. He particularly cautioned them to guard against impatience. Especially since Maranatha was rather young, their wedding might be quite a long way off yet. Though they hoped that the time would be soon, they nevertheless resigned themselves to the real possibility that the wedding could be a matter of years down the road, much like Jacob’s seven year betrothal to Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). Yet they were both naturally quite motivated and energetically prepared in every way they could, as quickly as they could, just in case the wedding should suddenly be announced.

Not to be outdone in the “biblical examples of courtship and marriage” department, Michael Pearl counseled his daughter, Shoshanna, to forego a state-issued marriage license:

None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts. The sooner there is such a movement, the sooner we will have a voice in government. Some of you attorneys and statesmen reading this should get together and come up with an approach that will have credibility and help to impact the political process.

Yeah … that’s “bible-believing” extremism for you – and it’s not enough to practice these ideals for themselves and their children, “biblical family values” must become the law of the land.

As a former Quiverfull believer, I used to get excited at the prospect of searching the Word and discovering greater “truths” and biblical principles – the implementation of which would bring my family increasingly closer to a truly God-honoring model of marriage and Christian home life.  At the same time, I secretly dreaded what the Lord might reveal to me next through Lindvall’s Bold Christian Living, Pearl’s No Greater Joy, and other “biblical family living” ministries.  Already I was obediently and faithfully having baby after baby to the obvious detriment of my health, submitting to my abusive husband, homeschooling, home birthing, home churching, foregoing all government assistance including potentially life-saving health insurance and food stamps, cutting off all outside relationships with family and friends who were not like-minded Quiverfull Believers …. honestly, the regimentation and isolation made for a harsh and demanding life.

“What’s next?” I frequently wondered to myself … ‘cuz my practice of Quiverfull was not “peculiar” enough already, I guess.

I am so grateful that I got out before I had a chance to discover the biblical principle of a man selecting and taking a wife for himself.  I am afraid, since the idea comes straight from scripture, I very well may have gone along with my daughters’ father coming to an “unbreakable arrangement” for a “godly” young man to “take them” in marriage.

Ugh.  It is a trap – a life-sucking quagmire – to attempt to order one’s family life according to a worldview which teaches that whatever is in the bible is necessarily “biblical” and normative for all times and all cultures.  I dread the thought that today’s Quiverfull daughters are now being taught that a young Christian woman “has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man” and given no decision in the covenant agreement between her father and the man who will be taking her.


If you are not familiar with the Quiverfull movement, please read Kathryn Joyce’s book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarch Movement


  1. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    It does get a little hard to discuss the Bible as the Basis Of Morality(tm) once you realize that it has absolutely no concept of human rights, at least not when it comes to women and children. When it discusses the moral treatment of women and children at all, it does so in terms of property rights.

    • Avatar
      August Rode

      “It does get a little hard to discuss the Bible as the Basis Of Morality(tm) once you realize that it has absolutely no concept of human rights…

      Exactly right. Why then do so very many American evangelicals insist that human rights are granted by the Christian God? If one looks at the human rights granted in the Constitution, it’s obvious that not one of them is Biblical in origin.

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    Wow…..that is seriously, seriously sick. Indeed Michael Mock – women and children are discussed in the OT in terms of property rights. And that is just slavery. Talk about a belief system setting the stage for serious abuse.

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    It’s just icky in addition to being creepy. Uncomfortable to think of a dad being THAT interested in getting so intimately involved in pairing his daughter up. Seems sexual to me.

  4. Avatar

    There is so much horrible stuff about rape, sex and women in the Bible. I was always appalled by Lot offering his daughters up to be brutally raped and possibly killed. That made him more despicable than anyone else in Sodom, right? Yet he was the good guy of the story? I couln’t wrap my head around that one. The David and Batseba story is a similar example. How could these horrible men been seen as good in God’s eyes? What would we call them nowadays? No wonder I assumed God didn’t like women much with so many stories like these sprinkled throughout the Bible…

    A little while ago, I heard a sermon on Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 20. According to the story God had prevented the rape and was therefore the hero? Yet she was still seen as property… It wasn’t the rape that was wrong, no, it was taking and raping another man’s wife that was wrong. Had she truly been his sister there had been no problem at all. The pastor was modern enough to see some problems with the story himself, fortunately, but for me it emboldened my newly found disbelief. I could hardly stomach these stories as a Christian, but now I could at last abhor them as much as I wanted.

    These new Quiverfull ideas are simply horrifying. It’s like going back centuries… Whenever I encountered sexism in my own generation of Christian boys/men I got so angry and disheartened. It was bad enough that my grandfather and father were quite sexist, but for people of my own generation to be so, it just left me feeling rather hopeless. And this stuff is ten times worse than what I ever encountered…. They are basically being sold with no say in it at all.

    • Avatar

      “They are basically being sold with no say in it at all.” Sadly, yes. It’s the kind of thing that you think only happens in places like India, Somalia and Afghanistan…along with things like FGM and honor killings. How long will it be, I wonder, before Quiverfull leaders “discover the Biblical principles” of FGM and honor killings?

      And if they start opting out of “government” marriage, as Michael The Horrible advocates, don’t forget that means they are opting out of the government requirements for marriage as well…how long before that leads to girls being “taken as wives” as soon as they start menstruating, putting an end to any “education” girls might receive before it gets beyond a very basic level? All the better to keep girls completely dependent on and subservient to men, and stop them from getting any “uppity” ideas…can’t have the breeding stock/sex dolls thinking that they’re actual human beings, after all….

      I’m terrified for the future.

      • Avatar

        I remember this story where a muslim woman was very touched by Jesus’ “he who is without sin can throw the first stone,” precisely because adulterers were still stoned in her country. It was one of those moments where I suddenly saw some parallels between the two faiths/cultures. There are quite a few honor killings and stories about honor in the Bible as well. I thought the FLDS, also don’t take age of consent very seriously, meaning a fifteen year old is elligable for marriage too. I guess technically it is all Biblical enough (which says enough about the Bible, doesn’t it?), but the thought of all that being implemented is definitely horrifying .

        • Avatar

          Their comments are appaling. They also seem to imply that only younger girls are/will be virgins so get them young because only they are ‘pure.’ And if I’m reading it right, they are practically saying they shouldn’t even attend high school, nor junior high, because it will corrupt them. So now it’s not just preventing young women going to college but even discouraging them to attend high school.

  5. Avatar
    Carolyn Patrick

    To pile injury on top of injury, when these women reach the age of retirement and seek social security, they will get none because they are not married in the eyes of the law.

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