Do Fathers Own Their Daughters?By Mary Stephens
Awhile back I ran across the article "Daddy's Girl: Courtship and a Father's Rights" by Sarah Faith Schlissel (since married). This article has probably been critiqued by others before me, but since it sets forth much of the real thinking behind the father-daughter relationships taught by the Patriarchy Movement (sometimes called hyper patriarchy), I wanted to deal with it here. I realize there are many strains of so-called "Biblical Patriarchy", but from my research, what is practiced in regard to father-daughter relations appears to be very close to what this writer put down in print. If some deny it verbally, fine and well. Let us see them deny it in practice and then we will believe their claims. This article was credited to have been published by The Chalcedon Foundation (not a small thing within those circles).
Sarah Faith is the daughter of Steve Schlissel who has also written for Chalcedon. Mr. Schlissel is reported to be a proponent of "Federal Vision" theology among Reformed types and is accused of teaching salvation by works. (Source) He has been the pastor of a Messianic style church in Brooklyn, New York and said to be noted for his "...revelatory insights into the unity of the Old and New Testaments..." (Source) What exactly they mean by "revelatory insights" I do not know, but it sounds as if he allegedly has "inside information" he got by "revelation", and that the rest of us peons must come to him for it. This would be the environment in which Sarah Faith grew up.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now
Chalcedon Foundation, who reportedly published her article, was started by Rousas Rushdoony for the promotion of Reconstructionism as a means to force Christ's Kingdom upon secular culture and the church - a worldwide theocracy; or perhaps ecclesiocracy would be the right word. (Ultimately, they believe they are responsible to "bring in the Kingdom" for Christ or force His Kingdom upon earth.) I quote from their page: "We believe that the whole Word of God must be applied to all of life. It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion...Chalcedon's activities include foundational and leadership roles in Christian reconstruction. Our emphasis on the Cultural or Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28) and the necessity of a return to Biblical Law has been a crucial factor in the challenge to Humanism by Christians in this country and elsewhere." [Emphasis added.]
I'm not addressing the errors of Reconstructionism and Dominion Theology here, but I wanted to give some background to help the reader see where this young lady was "coming from" when she wrote what she did. This does not excuse her, but it does help to show what kind of thinking is coming out of these groups. And, remember, Chalcedon reportedly published this.
I got this article from the web site http://www.bibletopics.com The specific link is http://www.bibletopics.com/BIBLESTUDY/92b.htm I couldn't easily find out who runs this site. I only noted that in the Bible Topics area they were posting verses on various subjects but that lists were incomplete or the verses were out of context. There's a reason for that. Let the reader beware!
The Article Itself
Sarah starts the article off by talking about how much she was a "Daddy's girl". The similarities between them were so numerous, she informs us, that people call her "Daddy's Little Clone". From her tone I'm fairly sure she had a good relationship with her own dad, at least from her perspective.
From this point Sarah's comments will be inside the boxes for clarity. My comments follow.
Right off the bat, this is a rather shocking statement/question. The intent of her article clearly becomes a defense of girls being the personal property of their fathers, as we shall see. She applies this particularly to the subject of courtship. Belief that daughters are the property of their fathers does not mean that fathers don't love their daughters (a man can love his property regardless of what form it takes), but it is a sorry ideology to apply to human beings created in the image of God. While feminism has some serious errors and flaws, there is something very real to their complaint that this kind of thinking makes women into objects to be owned and passed from man to man without due regard to the woman's own desires, thoughts, personhood, etc.
Some of this ideology comes from misinterpretation of (usually) Old Testament scripture. It should be clearly noted that there are many instances in scripture where a woman is treated as mere property which, though narrated, have no approval from God in the text. Approval by God is assumed by many, but if God doesn't give clear approval in either a specific instance or in other scripture it is wrong to assume that He approved just because He told us about it. Examples: We know that God did not approve of Samson breaking his Nazarite vow because God gave clear instructions as to how Nazarites were supposed to live and said Samson was to be one from birth. We cannot assume that God approved David paying for his wife with 200 foreskins of Philistines because God never said anything about that anywhere to my knowledge. Even more, God never gave specifications as to what a "bride price" should be - other than that Christ laid down His life for the church.
For the crux of the courtship question is not empirical, but principal [sic]. I define courtship as the discovery of a life-partner for a daughter under the direct oversight of the father. Any man seeking to beg, borrow or steal a daughter's hand without her father's endorsement is seeking to gain, in unlawful ways, "property" not his own. Daughters are Daddy's girls in the objective sense, and this particular daughter rejoices in that truth.
[Note: I think she meant "principle" here, not "principal".]
The definition of empirical is "based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic." The definition of principle is "a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning...a fundamental source or basis of something."
Frankly, I see "courtship" (for lack of a better word) as a mixture of both empirical and principle. Experience and biblical examples make me think that it is some of both. Following only principles will lead to hard fast rules which may leave out natural love and affection, experience and observation, and may even mean missing God's will. Following only empiricism will lead to making feelings-based decisions from observation and experience, which presents its own set of problems and potential for mistakes. Neither one alone is acceptable, but a mixture of the two - some good solid principles mixed with observation and experience - will give a more thorough perspective in building a potential marriage relationship.
Without getting into too much detail, the mention of the man seeking a wife in "unlawful ways" is bothersome since there is no "law" laid out in God's word for this procedure. Of whose law are we then speaking? Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
It is also disturbing that she refers to the potential suitor seeking a "daughter" without her father's endorsement as seeking "property" not his own. This is rough, no doubt about it. She's clearly referring to marriage as a transfer of "property". As annoying as it is to say so outright, the feminists have not misunderstood people like this. They view women as property, plain and simple.
For argument's sake we will assume that the definition that she is thinking of for "objective" is this: "not dependent on the mind for existence; actual." So, she is boldly claiming that daughters are not just the intellectual property of their father, figuratively speaking ("These are my kids"); but the actual physical property of their fathers. This means, by the interpretation of this type of people that daughters "belong" to their fathers as they might own a car or a house or a piece of real estate. ("Daughter for sale. Enquire within.") Sarah is actually taking pride in being a piece of stuff - a piece of property - in her father's collection of objects.
But, what if we are born again? Who owns us then? New Testament teaching to the church does not indicate that children or daughters are "owned by their daddies". Any saved believer falls under another line of ownership in Christ. First as joint-heirs with Christ. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ...
Then we are in the larger body - the church - which is God's purchased possession. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. BUT - this is in the plural! "You", "ye", and "your" signify plural - the group - in the King James Version. ("Thee, thou and thine" signify the singular "you" - a clever means for bringing the difference of plural "you" and singular "you" into English from the Greek. Yes, those "archaic thees and thous" do serve an important purpose!) So, this is a collective idea, not a singular idea. Furthermore, we are bought from the bondage of sin, not from our fathers nor for our fathers, but FOR God. The thought could be drawn from this that to claim any other ownership for Christians makes the price that He paid for us - the death of His Son for our salvation - a second rate ownership. This is rather shocking!
Then we have
7:22-23, For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the
Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's
servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
This is speaking to servants - some of whom were presumably owned slaves
- yet, God tells them they are His freemen. Why? Because
they are bought with a price! Again, the ownership of the saved is
based upon the salvation Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood!
Therefore, we are not to be the servants of men. Fathers are
certainly men, so this shoots a big hole in the idea that daughters
are "owned" and should be the servants of their fathers! Daughters who are born of the Spirit into the body of Christ are not
"owned" by their fathers. They are the "property" of God Almighty
based upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary.
"Authoritative stewardship", now that's a fine sounding phrase. I believe this could be called bombast (see definition).
Notice the typical ploy she uses at the end of this imaginary "quote". Instead of dealing with real concerns, she jumps to the worst accusations, ones which are not correct in the first place. Of course we don't need more self-esteem. Of course we don't need to "get with the times" and interpret our beliefs by them. But, this does not prove that an unmarried daughter should think of herself as a piece of property in her father's possession.
Friends, always beware when someone arguing their position doesn't deal with the real issues and instead presents the worst possible imaginary arguments from "the opposition." People that do such almost always have an ulterior motive, a weak point to prove, or simply didn't study enough.
Stop right there. Let me clarify something. We don't
examine a theory or idea based on its
merits. We examine it in light of scripture to see if it is true!
We may also consider it in light of common sense to see if it is
reasonable. There are many things in life that may appear good,
but if they are contrary to scripture or are patently distructive it doesn't matter how "great" the
results from a human viewpoint, they're still wrong.
Be a noble Berean. Check everything against the revelation God has given us in scripture. And, use the good sense God intended you to have.
Then too, the correct "Christian worldview" is not informed by scripture, but rather scripture should define our worldview. This may seem like a fine point, but scripture is not information - it is our final authority and absolute truth. John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. By it we can, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." as Jesus commanded in John 7:24. In reality this is the foundational issue of this whole discussion. It is and always has been about final authority since the day that Satan asked, "Yea, hath God said...?" (Gen. 3:1). The true "crux of the...question" is who and what is the final authority in the life of a believer, including born again daughters of saved or unsaved fathers?
But, for the moment, let's move on.
It's important to remember that the law was our school master to bring us TO Christ. It
is not what we live under.
Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our
schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be
justified by faith. But after that faith is come,
we are no longer under
Remember that this involves the
belief that "they" are going to establish "the Kingdom" for or instead
of Christ. The problem is that their idea of the kingdom is wrong,
and we are the church which is being built by Christ at this time.
We are building something, yes. Paul wrote in
Corinthians 3:10-13, According to the grace of God which is given unto
me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another
buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for
the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the
fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
At least here she gives verbal credit to the authority of God's word. However, I find it very telling that she doesn't use any scripture to prove her point as yet!
But now she takes a scary veer into bizarre manipulation of scripture and logic.
First of all, her major premise is not going to hold water. Creators of things, in the general sense as she states it, are not always sovereign over what they created. How many writers of music and books have lost all "sovereignty" over their "creation"? The conclusion here is true, but not because her "major premise" is true. The conclusion is true because scripture tells us God is sovereign over all HE created. But, it does not extend that privilege to man and things he creates.
This is also a really strange place to head to prove that a father
has the right to rule over his daughter and own her! What brazen (mis)use
2) We are more specifically made by our mothers than our fathers. After all, dads have a rather minimal, though essential, part in the whole process. So, based on this shaky "syllogism" it would appear that we should be a matriarchal people rather than patriarchal. Hello? (I put syllogism in quotes because I don't think hers works, so it isn't one.)
This idea that the creator is sovereign over his creation in the human realm cannot be comfortably extended to fathers because men are not GOD. Wait...some people do say that hyper patriarchy is idolatry. Hm...I wonder why! Also, if you're going to apply this to daughters under this "logic", then you better include the sons and stop letting the guys off easier! Let's be consistent here!
Speaking more specifically of this sovereignty issue that she brought up --
This same truth is variously expressed in Scripture: "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own. . . ?" (Mat. 20:15). The potter (Rom. 9:21) has a right to do with his creations as he sees fit. Put another way, to generate something is to have an implicit sovereignty over it.
First off, Matt. 20 is dealing with the parable of the householder who sent the laborers into his vineyard to work at different hours of the day and then paid them all a penny regardless of how long they worked. This has to do with how God chooses to reward His servants for their work, not His sovereignty over all His creation. So, she's off track there. (Always check a proof text for the context.)
Romans 9:21 says, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? This is still uncertain. The verse is talking about the actual and original creative act, and in the context appears to be dealing with predestination and sovereignty on a level that can only be applied to God. It is a parable. Stop and think - a potter has the power to make a vessel unto honor, but if that vessel is later repurposed to a dishonorable purpose, can a human potter stop that from happening? No. This really seems to be God's business then, since only He has the power to create vessels unto His purpose in the way Paul writes.
Fathers have little power to make their children vessels unto honor or dishonor, not knowing whether those children will choose the way of salvation or not. There have been kids raised in Christian homes where some went on to walk in God's ways, while others with the same upbringing turned from the truth and rejected Christ. Fathers can't force a specific outcome just because they sired someone into the world physically.
Sarah Faith's point here is that because God as the creator has sovereign authority over His creation that means fathers (in the context of this article) have sovereignty over their daughters (in the context of this article), whom they "created". This, friends, is a very, very long stretch. How many of us enjoy "sovereignty" over anything we've "created"? How many times do we find, to our sorrow, that we don't "own" things we've created? We are not God! And, even He allows for self-governance and free will in His human creation, for He is not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9, and yet He does not force that will on all His created beings! They must choose for themselves in salvation and many other areas. (Joshua 24:15)
She does continue with a qualification, but I find it rather anti-climatic compared to the implication of parental - and particularly fatherly - "sovereignty" that she has just made. The idea that a father has the sovereignty over his children's, or even daughters', lives based upon his "creation" of them is excessive at least, and at worst is smacks of idolatry.
We happily concede the fact that human ownership is always second order ownership under God, the only absolute Sovereign. Nevertheless, God has made explicit his will that parents, as the immediate generative source of individuals, are to be revered for that very fact, and the rights of parents are to be honored, by children and society.
Sarah finally includes both parents here. (Mothers tend to get short changed a lot in "Biblical Patriarchy".) She also acknowledges that the "ownership" of the parents is under God's ownership. (Don't get too excited over that concession. She'll blow it all to smithereens shortly.) However, as we've seen previously, it's hard to prove that from N.T. teaching, which points in another direction entirely - that as believers we are owned by the Lord only. Parents certainly are given some significant responsibility in N.T. church commands, but "ownership" of their children doesn't seem to be one of them, and certainly not daughters being "owned" by their fathers.
I'd like to point out that it is hard to prove that God has made "explicit his will" that "society" is required to honor parents' rights. It's easy enough to prove from rights-oriented thinking of conservative (right-wing) political and social ideals, or from some Old Testament teaching, but not from the New Testament. Parents had certain rights under the Mosaic laws that governed the nation of Israel in the Old testament, but kings largely did as they pleased, as did the heathen nations. Samuel warned the Israelites in 1 Sam. 8:13 that the king they wanted would take their daughters to be his servants! 1 Samuel 8:13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
The N.T. does not make it clear that state governments or secular "society" are to honor the "rights of parents." Mainly this is because the N. T. makes no effort to control society at all during the church era except as we are the salt of the earth, Matt. 5:13. (By the way, salt irritates and preserves and slows decay, it does not restore rot to goodness. Only Jesus Christ can do that through the miracle of new birth.) Mixing human political ideas with "the Kingdom" of Christ causes great confusion. (Remember that it is necessary for her basic worldview to "prove" that society must bow to the dominion of Christ now because Dominionists believe they are going to establish and/or enforce Jesus Christ's kingdom on this earth.)
No, of course she wouldn't feel qualified to discuss the role of sons. After the "syllogism" she built, it would be hard to extract the boys from being under the same exact "sovereignty" of the parent-creators, and specifically the mothers since they are the most involved in the "creation"! Hohum.
As to the last part of that sentence - Can we get a little scripture here to prove this? What has been given so far specifically applied to God Almighty, not fathers and daughters. To use that as proof that fathers have a "peculiar relationship" with daughters and that those same verses, which supposedly establish her theory, DON'T apply to sons is preposterous! (I will tell you, however, who has "peculiar relationships" with their daughters! If your head isn't swimming yet, just hold on. It gets worse.)
Can we get some scripture to prove this too?! To say that because she moves under her husband's authority at marriage a daughter is therefore "uniquely" under her father's authority beforehand seems like reverse reasoning to me. It comes out wrong somehow. "Under his authority" in as much as he is the leader of the home, we accept, but this "unique ownership" is foreign to N.T. teaching. As for calling on the grace of God to authorize her definition of "authority" - PLEASE! This smacks more of the commandments of men than the grace of God! Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men...
The application of Hebrews 12:9-10 extends to all children in context, Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. From this we can see several things that do great damage to the "unique father-daughter relationship".
1) Our fathers in the
flesh correct us after their own pleasure.
This sounds really "correct" within the presuppositions of many, especially "biblical patriarchy" and probably even many who claim to be Complimentarian; but is it biblical? To me it appears to be a mixture of truth and presumption.
Are fathers required to raise sons "who make houses possible"? 1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Much as I don't like to admit it myself, that doesn't say anything about a house. I'm sure that many of our persecuted and poverty stricken Christian brethren in various places and eras are thankful that wasn't mentioned! Even food and raiment is not promised - but it's esteemed as "enough" for contentment in scripture.
Are daughters to be raised to "make houses homes"? While that may be an attractive thought in our modern age, I can't think of anything that specifies that in scripture. I don't see any reason why a man is less responsible to "make a house a home" either.
Even the concept of the husband provider and wife provided for is awkward to prove satisfactorily from scripture. Yes, I remember about the "keepers at home" phrase in Titus 2, and I believe it. But, let's be honest here - that doesn't explicitly dictate that the woman can't help "provide" while she's at home. Besides that, we run into a lot of snags in the N.T. in this line - Lydia (of whom no husband is mentioned) was a seller of purple (a high end job), Dorcus (of whom no husband is mentioned) had income enough to help the widows, and Priscilla worked with her husband Aquilla as a tentmaker and helped him instruct Appollos (Acts 18:2-3, 16). We need to be very careful to keep our expectations regarding marriage and "family order" in line with actual biblical teaching to the church.
I also take some exception to daughters being trained specifically to be mothers. The N.T. does not promise Christians children as a reward for obedience as God promised the Jews under the O.T. law. In fact, our rewards are quite different. Paul even encourages both men and women who are morally able to remain single so that they can serve the Lord without distraction. 1 Corinthians 7:35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. I know this is not popular among those promoting the necessity of "raising arrows for the war on culture", but it is what the Bible says. It seems more prudent to train daughters with skills that will be applicable in a broader spectrum of service to Christ than strictly being a wife and mother.
Proud independence is no noble goal for a woman, and the spirit which pursues it is no part of a godly girl's trousseau.
True enough - pride is always negative in scripture as far as I know. But what about humble autonomy? What about free will with meekness? Again, she is using the ploy of appealing to the furthest position to justify her own extreme position. (It doesn't work, ma'am. Give it up.)
Added to this is the interesting thought - What if a father commands his daughter to be independent? What if he wants her to make her own choice in marriage with minimal help from him? No word on that here. Presumably "good, godly covenant fathers" will automatically want to do this, which opens another whole can of worms.
She also uses an old trick that is totally unreasonable and devious. The idea is that if we agree with God, we will naturally agree with her; and if we don't agree with her, we are disagreeing with God. Did you get that? It is intended to make us feel guilty and/or to coerce us into agreement by suggesting that if we don't agree, we don't "acknowledge that God's way is right" - in other words, we "don't love God". I am so sick of this tactic. "Quite pleasant" indeed! You may keep your messy logic, ill-thought out premises and misuse of scripture, lady. I'll pass on that.
To quote a silly song, "Same song, same verse, Couldn't get better but it's gonna get worse..."
Again, Christ's ownership of us (plural - the church) is NOT a
premise for declaring that dads OWN their daughters and have unequivocal
authority over them.
Wow! It so Isn't "as simple as that". Yes, for the sinner that is an issue. It is even for the Christian at times. But, to say this is the sole reason that we object to the belief that fathers own their daughters is extreme simplification with an ulterior motive. Again, we're supposed to feel wicked for even suggesting there's a problem! We're being coerced, not instructed in righteousness. Did you see the proof text? Me neither! It's not just that "simple" to draw the conclusions she wants to foist upon us.
Perhaps it should also be pointed out that having authority to determine comings and goings does not signify ownership. The guards in a prison have this authority, but they certainly do not own the prisoners. [That could lead to an interesting rabbit trail, but I'll restrain myself!]
Fathers don't "own" their children, even daughters, during those years that they supervise their comings and goings. As Christians they are under-shepherds under Christ, but they do not OWN HIS sheep! (John 10:3-4 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.) Any saved lady is not her own, nor her father's, but Christ's within the body of believers. So! It is then Christ who has the right to tell us when to come and go. Parents do this for children for their safety and for order in the home, BUT marriageable age women are not children, and while honoring their parents and seeking their blessing if possible, they are not constrained to obey at all costs! Parents have been known to command their daughters to do things clearly outside of God's revealed will (scripture).
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Fathers are certainly men.
It's a long stretch between sinners cringing at the concepts of courtship and daughters being OWNED by their fathers. People who don't believe in fathers owning their daughters sometimes even practice what "sinners" could call courtship.
Did you note how she lumped everyone who "cringes" at the "concepts" of courtship under the name "sinners." That's another neat trick of devious argument designed to make those who don't agree feel guilty or wicked or outside "God's will." One could imply from her comment earlier about sinners not liking the thought of being owned that she is calling those who cringe at courtship unsaved. Yes, there are people who will try to make you think you are not saved if you don't agree with them. It's a common tactic in cults. And, yes, I did just use the "C" word, because this lady is getting quite oppressive in the means she's using to force us to agree with her.
Watch the next trick now:
Yes, "saints" are obliged to agree with her definition of "God-given authority"! So, we can safely say that the "sinners" above are lost and hell-bound because they don't like the concepts involved in courtship - meaning that "Daddies own their daughters"! ONLY - she has not proven to us beyond a reasonable doubt that fathers owning their daughters is a God-given authority - or essential to "courtship", for that matter! (Oh, and did I mention? She hasn't proven that it's essential for salvation either!) We will allow a reasonable authority or leadership, but not OWNership. The guilt trips are getting more than a little thick. IF we're saints, we're "obliged" to agree with her because she's right and this is "from...God". Yet she still hasn't proven it from scripture. Blah!
In all seriousness - there are people who actually believe this stuff whether in fact, theory OR practice. Beware. They may use these same tricks to frighten you into agreeing with them, even submitting to them.
[Note: If you are grown woman 20 or above who is having this forced upon you in order to make you comply with demands that you know to be contrary to God's word, please seek help among believers outside of your family's persuasion. There are a number of Christian web sites where you may be able to find encouragement or help in dealing with this very real and very difficult form of spiritual and social bondage.]
She admits this, but then watch her totally "foul" and "off sides" it with the next lines of (il)logic.
There she goes again! She runs right to the excessive extremes to argue her case. Signs and feelings? Really? Who does she think we are? An evil and adulterous generation who seeketh after signs (Matt. 12:39). Maybe there are some of us out here who don't follow "signs and feelings." What if a girl's father tells her she may no longer gather with the saints in fellowship because he doesn't like "the church" any more? Let's ask a reasonable question with a clear biblical answer. Oh, but "we" were establishing the father's right to OWN his daughter and thus to determine for her whom she will marry. Yes, I...um...forgot where she was headed. Ahem!
Now, I'll repeat the first and last questions again to make her answer clear. Don't Miss This!!
This is jaw dropping. "God...takes a back seat"! DID you just read that?
Setting aside her lame middle question, let's consider the first and last ones. What if a father actually disapproves of something that God has commanded His children to do, and this "girl" is a saved "girl"? Would it be God's will for her to obey her father's will instead? Acts 4:19 tells us, But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. Obviously the answer is, "No!"
Romans 3:4 ...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar...
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Fathers will answer for how they raise all their children, but this does not mean that they stand between their believing daughters (or sons) and the Lord Himself in some special way. There is only one who holds that position - Christ Jesus.
For anyone who wants to argue that daughters aren't men so 1 Tim. 2:5 doesn't apply to them, I'd just remind you of this: 1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible... [And people wonder why we love the KJV.]
By the way, I'm more than a little weary of the idea being foisted upon us that the "poor men" have all this "extra responsibility" upon their shoulders as if somehow we ought to feel sorry for them or respect them for the "great load" they carry. It is a form of manipulation for an abuser to pose as a "victim" in order to discredit the complaints of those whom he is abusing. It is an identified trait of narcissists. "Doubles the father's responsibilities" indeed! If he wasn't usurping God's authority he'd have a lot less to worry about!
The father's ownership, of course, is an in order to thing. God has given the daughter to the father so he can raise her in the fear and admonition of the Lord, protect her from harm and want, protect her from other men, and sometimes, protect her from herself, even from foolish decisions she might make on her own. [Emphasis original.]
Well, what if... Yeah, I know these types hate "what if" questions from us idiots out here. We all do when we launch out into our own reasoning without scriptural foundation and don't want to answer questions from real life, or frankly admit we don't know. "What ifs" get messy when all we can answer is, "I don't know", but sometimes that's what is needed.
Anyway, what if a girl doesn't have a godly father? What if her father doesn't assume this level of responsibility for her? What if she has no father? This huge emphasis on the super-extremely-important role a father has for his daughter can only discourage young ladies who don't "enjoy" this kind of relationship. What are they to do - other than give up? This is sad and doesn't remind me of Jesus who said "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." John 14:18
Another interesting thought is what if the daughter isn't saved? Does her father then "own" her in lieu of God's ownership of the saved? There is no N. T. teaching to justify that, and it would be preposterous to apply O.T. teaching to the unsaved in this instance, as with many.
Now at the risk of sounding like I'm nit-picking, I'd like to talk about the protection factor here - harm, want, other men, and sometimes herself. Up to a point a father can do this and should, but God's right to ownership of saved daughters supersedes the father's responsibilities.
The father cannot protect his daughter from all harm and want, and he shouldn't.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. We cannot escape all harm if we live godly in Christ Jesus. There must come with it suffering at various times.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Paul said he learned to suffer need and be content in whatsoever state he found himself. It is God's will that we sometimes suffer want. It is for our growth and good. A father who tries to get in the way of that consistently may cripple the growth of his saved daughter. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Combined with other things this lady is teaching, this could be a great set back in a daughter's walk with Jesus Christ. Taken with other tendencies in "biblical patriarchy", ladies could get the idea that they shouldn't have their own relationship with the Lord or think too much about spiritual things. Sadly, this may explain why it's sometimes hard to have real spiritual conversations with women in these types of groups. (Except the select few women who are allowed to be spiritual leaders. The "yoginis" of "Biblical Patriarchy", if you will.)
How much a man is able to "protect" his daughters from want and provide for them does have to do with his income. Curiously enough, there seems to be (and have been) a number of rather wealthy men at the top of the Patriarchal Movement. Vision Forum, at least, seemed to target a more financially able customer base (who could have afforded their stuff otherwise?). My own parents did not want to send their daughters out to work, and they and my brothers made sacrifices to accomplish that, but the plain raw fact is that not everyone is economically capable of doing that, especially when they are also having unlimited "arrows" to "fill their quivers" (that means lots of kids, for those who don't know the lingo). Frankly, my parents couldn't have done it if they'd had more than four kids themselves. Oh, and my sister and I both helped with my parents' business in various ways, but not because we were called to "serve our father's vision". It was just practical and helped put food on the table.
[Comment on photo: There's a good chance that these sharecroppers were born-again Christians. Obviously this man was not in a position to keep the ladies nice and tidy at home while he went out and supported them. Yeah, this might be excused as an "agricultural family business", but I dare say that some of these ladies would have rather been keeping the home than out hoeing in the Southern sun. This is a hard way to make a living.]
A father also cannot always protect his daughter from other
men, and consequently she needs to be taught how to protect herself
or others should occasion require it. She should learn how to
discern evil motives in men, even ones who claim "godliness", and how to recognize
potentially dangerous situations. If the girls in the ATI families had been faithfully
Lastly, daughters do sometimes make foolish decisions. So do sons. Both sometimes need to be protected from themselves. Both also sometimes need to be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Both also need to learn to make prudent and thought out decisions on their own before God. Daddy won't always be there to do that for his daughters (or sons).
I once read about a girl who was on a missions trip far from home. The missionaries were taking the young people into a jungle area where there were bugs and plants that could be very troublesome. They wanted the girls to wear pants (under their skirts) for their own protection. This particular girl insisted on calling home (that must have cost some money back then) to ask permission from her parents before doing so. Her mother, instead of being disturbed that her daughter couldn't figure out what to do without asking their help, was actually pleased. To me that is really sad. A girl old enough to be sent that far from home on her own should be mature enough to make a decision without having to call Daddy and Mommy to find out what to do in such a simple situation. My heart grieves for girls and parents who don't know any better than that. When John wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 1:4) the implication is that he was not there holding their hands every step making sure they didn't make any foolish decisions. Parents need to start letting their kids make decision themselves before they leave home - or hand their daughters over to the "next administration" as their case may be.
Back to Sarah Faith's article:
It's interesting that when she finally gets around to giving us some concrete scripture on a father's "peculiar relationship" to his daughter she goes back to the Old Testament Law. It's pretty much impossible to prove this still stands from the N.T. teaching to the church. This is O.T. law for the Jews and, though it is pretty serious stuff, we need to see it in light of later revelation to the church. In the N.T. we're told, But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. James 5:12 That seems pretty easy to understand.
Her example is curios. It has nothing to do with courtship or marriage, which was the theme of her argument. The example questions she was trying to answer were specific to that subject.
How inconvenient of God to specify that this is regarding daughters in their YOUTH and in their fathers' houses. It's inconvenient if you're trying to prove that all daughters of all ages (in all situations?) are bound by their fathers' will "till marriage do us part". Curiously, God doesn't give us any specifics as to daughters no longer in their youth but still in Daddy's house, OR who are no longer in Daddy's house and still in their youth (parents maybe divorced), or who are adults living outside their father's house. Hmmm. That seems awkward to Sarah Faith's purpose in using this passage to say the least.
Personally, I don't see that the passage implies that all daughters will get married either. The fact that the LORD specified which unmarried daughters this applies to seems to belie the idea that all "good" girls with "good" fathers, who are committed to courtship, covenants, "purity" and "patriarchy" will get married.
Furthermore, this principle could apply in the N.T. while not being law to the believer. Sometimes a daughter in her younger years, which the Lord specifically is addressing, might promise something to someone or even God, and then her father might tell her that she could not fulfill it. But generally speaking among believers, when grown young women make promises their dads give them room to fulfill the promises, especially when it's to the Lord.
When parents get in the way of their children obeying Him, sometimes the Lord does fearful things. When Isobel Kuhn, as a grown young woman out of her father's home, determined that the Lord wanted her to be a missionary in China her dad was agreeable to letting her do God's will, but her mother said, "You'll go to China over my dead body." And, she did. Her mother repented of her attitude at the end, but God took her (a woman whose husband didn't agree with her oath, by the way) at her word and took her life before her daughter left for China. Frankly, this could have just as easily happened to a father who said such a thing. God does take us at our word, sometimes in ways we never dreamed of! Be careful what you say dads, moms, daughters, sons - all who are in Christ!
Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
By the way, it seems that we could see this verse as being an upgrade to the previous law regarding the oaths of daughters. I can't say that for sure, but it's an interesting thought.
This also could apply:
Romans 14:12-13 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
Fathers can be a stumblingblock to their daughters by overruling what a young lady believes is God's will for her life. (Remember this is not about children. The object of Sarah's article relates to marriage.)
Really? How do we come to that conclusion based on that
passage? Again -
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the
other apostles answered and
said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Example 1: My family knew a lady who told us that when she was on the verge of womanhood her father promised her in marriage to a much older, unlikely man in order to pay off his (her father's) debts to this man. She ran away. Who could blame her? They were not Christians. So, is a daughter obligated to obey her father and marry someone she doesn't want to marry if he commands her to? Well, probably most Patriarchy Movement people would say "no", but how far do you suppose this foolish "logic" is being taken in real life where fathers are not walking in Christian love and also feel they have unlimited authority over their daughters? Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Example 2: A friend of mine knew a Christian lady from the Jack Hyles persuasion (I think) who was 40 years old and her father refused to "allow" her to get married. He couldn't find anyone "good enough" for her. Is she obligated to obey in that situation? When does a woman stand before God in her own right? Since Sarah Faith has put God in the back seat, it sounds like never. A daughter just moves from her father's "ownership" to her husband's. If her father refuses to transfer his "property" then what? (Oops. More of those messy real life questions.)
First, Sarah makes the jump from daughters not being required to fulfill oaths if their fathers release them to the idea that girls must obey their fathers - apparently, in all things. (That's a mighty big jump, by the way.) Then she makes a blanket statement of what scripture says about daughters marrying without giving one verse to support it. Though daughters are generally "given in marriage", we do have some interesting examples in scripture to the contrary - the Benjamites kidnapped their wives at the suggestion of the men of Israel, Jdg. 21. Ruth was not given by anyone other than herself, unless you want to say she was given by her mother-in-law. Really, though, it appears she gave herself as she chose to follow her mother-in-law's advice. Rahab was not said to have been given by her father (and she had been a harlot). While it IS generally practiced in principle among most Christians that daughters are "given in marriage", to press us to agree with the extent of her belief and practice is arrogant.
She also does not produce any scripture to prove that daughters are not "taken in marriage". Interestingly, there are numerous mentions of a man "taking a wife". Look up "take wife" and "took to wife". Of course, this would be in the King James Version. I went to biblegateway.com and checked several translations to see what they said. They all used "take" or "took" in relation to "wife" in a similar manner. Sarah was apparently using the NASB, and it has a number of such references. This, then, totally negates her statement. Either she didn't check or she didn't agree with the scriptures and just lied. I'll grant her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn't bother to look.
For lack of space I'll give just one outstanding example of
"taking a wife" - this because it was spoken by an angel sent by God in a
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of
the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of
David, fear not to take unto
thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived
in her is of the Holy Ghost. It is a
interesting fact that while many people allege that Mary was "only about
13" we never hear a word about her father or mother being involved in
her marriage to Joseph. That's very curious. (I don't believe
she was that young, but that's another subject.)
Actually, there are plenty of Christian guys and gals who practice "modern dating" and still want the lady's father's blessing or her parents' blessing for marriage, sometimes even for a relationship. (You know, she brought him home to meet her parents, and vice versa; and some girls and guys really do care what Dad and Mom think.) Again, she is using the worst case scenario to represent the view or practice she opposes.
She also is guilty of "painting with a broad brush", as the saying goes. Her implication is that all people that practice modern dating hold this view. This does nothing for the argument because most of us within the body of Christ are not at that extreme. This is the peril of reactionary Christianity. It tends to extremes and reacts against extremes. So, those who fall in the middle are often ungraciously lumped with the opposite extreme by both ends. Ugh.
She puts a great deal of emphasis here on the young man seeking the father's approval and proving himself worthy to the father. While there is some merit in this to a limited degree, there are claims that this has been made into a situation where the young man literally has to "court" the father first and foremost. (How awkward is that?)
In her book
Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
[Disclaimer on some content in this book!], Kathryn Joyce claims that
when Peter Bradrick was seeking to marry Scott Brown's daughter Kelly,
he "wrote more than a dozen 'position papers' for Scott Brown on
everything from politics and theology to child training and marital
roles for husband and wife, all backed with biblical arguments...
While a father's AND brothers' insights and observations may prove excellent helps in discerning a young man's worth, it is to be hoped that the young lady will have some insight too! It also should be noted that not all fathers have "a lot of insight into character, impulses, etc." I'm not saying that God didn't give it to them, as her statement might make it seem; I'm saying that some men don't have that insight as much as others. Sometimes the mother does. I've known cases in which mothers have saved their daughters from unethical or wicked men where the fathers didn't necessarily see the problem. Based on realities of life, I'm sure there are also cases where daughters themselves saw things that concerned them that maybe their fathers didn't see. For a family who are all believers, there should be an element of "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Ephesians 5:21
Ok, we'll grant an element of truth to this in some cases but...
If the young lady was taught to think and reason and make wise decisions herself, she should be able to see some things herself. This is just relegating the daughters to being helpless airheads who can't make a good choice of husband without intense supervision ("authoritative stewardship", whatever that is). This is not to imply that the father's help isn't desirable, but really, the girl should have more in her head than flowers and sweet words (and chocolates)! Those might be nice in their place, but if they "win" her, she has a problem already, and all her father's efforts may not bring about a strong, Christ-centered marriage for her anyway. Clueless young women who are blinded by the outward trappings of "romance" are probably going to have other problems as well. Ahem.
A father may help his daughter certainly, but as mentioned before, sometimes a mother has more discernment on these things, and sometimes a daughter herself does. Many fathers are not aware of what their daughters need in marriage. They would be foolish to claim they did. Who of us ever does know exactly what we need in this life? It seems to me that this is God's territory. (But wait, she already gave some of His rights over to the father, so is it surprising that she'd venture further?)
Neither my dad nor I would claim that we were aware of what my needs were in a husband. The Lord graciously led us, through faith, and gave me a husband who is not the "man of my dreams" nor "my father's best choice for me", but is what God Knew I needed in a husband. (My father and I are both blessed with that, by the way.)
It should be noted also that some young men change their "life calling" after they are married. How, then, can a father be sure that his daughter will be able to help this man "in his calling"? I had a friend who married a banker who later became a pastor. That's a big switch! Really this is one of many areas of life in which we walk by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.
This is beyond belief! Again - only a little mis-used scripture to prove this. And, does God really say that? There are, in fact, fathers who do refuse to allow their daughters to marry anyone, as mentioned before. Does that mean that it is God's will? Is the answer "no" from God's mouth?! Wow. What presumption, what arogance. And the will of the father IS the will of God?? What godly man in his right mind would want to take that responsibility for his adult, saved daughter who is supposed to be able to walk before God herself as a fellow believer?
The play out of this is rather mind boggling. We could go so many direction with that. Some of the patriarchal types would say that daughters do have a choice in marriage, but I'm wondering how far they go with that if the father says "no". To say that a young woman has a choice to say "yes" or "no" to an approved suitor is one thing. To say that a daughter must accept her father's will as God's will is quite another thing altogether!
Frankly, what can we make of this but idolatry? And, I will go back to the Law here myself: Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (That's not difficult to apply to the church!) If the father is to be the only source of God's will to the daughter and she must simply accept it, then she has another god before the Lord, she has another mediator besides Christ between her and God the Father. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
The "what ifs" here are unthinkable. How far are you going to carry this? What if...a father commands his daughter to marry a man who is known to be perverted in some way? Does she have the right before God to refuse? Only one side of this coin seems to be addressed here, but the other side is very disturbing indeed. If a father has the "right" to sovereignty in forbidding his daughter to marry, does he then have the same authority to command her marriage? What if he claims he needs to molest her sexually to "prepare her for marriage"? (Men have done this!) Is she to accept this as God's will?! GOD FORBID! The implications of this reasoning followed to its extreme conclusion are enough to make one ill. Proverbs 4:26 tells us, Ponder the path of thy feet... Some paths lead to destructive ends. We really need to consider where our beliefs will lead.
I'm going to guess that some of this error comes from a belief in the absolute sovereignty of God and that man has no will of his own. This is then extended to the daughter based on the father's alleged "sovereignty" over her. They may not all establish it with the same reasoning that Sarah Faith gives, but the end results tend to be the same in practice. They would, presumably, blame the obscene things that happen on "total depravity" and leave it at that because they need a dodge to get out of saying that God willed for people to do evil. Denying free will will get you into a lot of trouble, especially when you grant it to one party (the father) and deny it to the another (the daughter).
So I really am "Daddy's girl." And no man can approach me as an independent agent because I am not my own, but belong, until my marriage, to my father. At the time of my marriage, my father gives me away to my husband and there is a lawful change of ownership. At that point and at that point only, I am no longer bound to do my father's will.
Generally we do say that children "belong" to their parents. In a sense they do, but not in the way that Sarah Faith is trying to establish. Furthermore, for those born into God's family, a higher family order exists, of which God the Father is the head. When a father (or husband) countermands God, or commands something obviously wrong, a daughter (or wife) is obligated to obey God rather than man.
Poor mistaken Sarah Faith. You are not owned by anyone but Jesus Christ if you are saved. Even husbands are not said to OWN their wives as property in N.T. church teaching - which you either do not know or refuse to actually use. Obedience and submission as commanded by God for wives is not a sign that the husband owns the wife - not in the sense you are implying. I am my husband's own wife, but he does not own me as property, and he would not want to. We are "...heirs together of the grace of life..." 1 Peter 3:7.
Just a reminder of Hebrews 12:10. Even God says that fathers ...chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. The implication of this is not that a daughter is "bound to do [her] father's will" until she's married. The father's ideas of child training are called his pleasure. There's a significant difference. [By the way, only God's chastening of His own children can bring about holiness. Parents, you are not going to spank or train your kids into being holy. Ultimately, that is God's department.]
One small problem, or rather LARGE one: that is O.T.
and we are under N.T.
Secondly, what about the women who never marry - and some
don't. Paul even encouraged it.
What happens when "Daddy" dies and no "Hubby" is in view? No word on that. We're apparently living in an idyllic dream world where "covenant" homes are essential for "bringing in the Kingdom", so husbands always happen for "good, godly girls who are owned by their Daddies." Ho hum.
Once again, she's also giving us the worst case scenario - the gallivanting, selfish, gold seeker (?) who wants to "do her own thing." It's always one or the other isn't it? You're either a good little owned covenant-seeking piece of property, OR you're a "wild thang", running footloose and fancy free, doing whatever you want, and ignoring your "God given authority". Nothing else seems to exist in her world view. Ugh!
In ending she writes:
The difficulty for her, is that this Dominionist oriented distinction is not made in scripture. New Testament teaching does not indicate that daughters are to do the will of their earthly fathers and that is the same as doing the will of God. That is blasphemy or very near to it. We are to obey our parents in the Lord as children and to honor always, but doing the pleasure of an earthly father doesn't automatically equate to doing the will of God.
Perhaps the example of Christ, which we are to follow (1 Peter 2:21) was intentional (of course!), in that Joseph is removed from the situation early. The last time Joseph appears Jesus is age twelve. On that occasion Jesus had stayed at the temple while Mary and Joseph had headed home from the feast and, missing Him, they had returned to find Him. When His mother questioned Him, He explained to them His unique relationship with His Father in heaven. Luke 2:48-49 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? Would Joseph have wanted his twelve-year-old son to stay alone in Jerusalem while the family headed home? It isn't likely. But, Jesus, even at that tender age, made it clear that He was doing the business of His Father - His real Father. While He continued to be subject to them at that time, He made it plain whose will He was obeying.
Jesus Christ emphasized many times in His later ministry that He came to do the will of His Father in heaven. That authority supersedes all earthly authority, which this lady admits, but so totally misinterprets! Referring back to 1 Corinthians 7:34, Paul told us that "...The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit..." Put bluntly, it is contrary to N.T church teaching for a daughter to "serve her father" and "do his will" till the day she marries. If God intended that, He would have said it in 1 Corinthians 7, if nowhere else! Unmarried, saved women are to care for the things of the Lord. Period. Full stop. That may include being of service to their fathers in some instances, but it does not mean fathers can require service or tell their daughters what God's will is for their lives.
Do fathers "own" their daughters? There is only one Father who "owns" all His daughters.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
some graphics and background by Mary Stephens
Illustrative graphics from various sources.
Written March-April 2014