As a Christian, I base my life on God’s Word, the Bible. I want to obey God, and I want to raise my children to obey Him.
I’ve wanted this ever since I first came to know Christ at age 12. I can’t say I’ve always been successful. Sometimes I’ve been willfully disobedient, and other times I’ve tried so hard to be obedient that I went overboard and tried to “obey” commands that weren’t even there. I pulled scripture willy-nilly from here and there thought I was being “led by God.” My heart was sincere, but sincerity won’t do you any good if you aren’t sincere about the right things. In fact, obeying extra-biblical rules or principles will put you in bondage and can even bring unforeseen disaster to your life.
That’s why I’ve been so saddened by the sudden popularity of books like the Botkin sisters’ So Much More and the corresponding documentary, Return of the Daughters (due to come out soon). I hope that I can present my thoughts as kindly, sweetly, and humbly as possible, for it’s not my goal to beat anyone over the head or to be mean-spirited toward anyone. I speak as one who lived and taught self-imposed extra-biblical principles for many years, principles that hindered me and others in ways I deeply regret.
Now to be fair I will admit that I have not yet read the book. I have read reviews by people who have read the book (both supporters and detractors) and I’ve viewed the movie trailer. I plan to read the book and possibly review it further at that point, but I think I understand enough about the gist of the message to comment a little.
Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin are beautiful, well-spoken, sincere young ladies. I’m sure they are wonderful girls who love the Lord and desire to serve Him. One commendation by their supporters is that “they back everything up with scripture.” Well, my friends, it is one thing to use scripture to support your views (the theological term is proof-text), and quite another to correctly interpret scripture by an objective method and thus gain your convictions from it. The basic premise of their materials (as I understand it) is that God’s will for daughters is that they should remain in the home until marriage, serving their fathers as help-mates to him, as they prepare to be help-mates to a future husband.
This idea is presented in the most appealing terms. The movie trailer is simply breathtaking. There’s just one problem. You won’t find any such command in God’s Word.
Now understand, I stayed home until I married. I spent most of that time just serving my family. I’m traditional and home-loving. There is nothing wrong with that. But it deeply troubles me when young girls like the Anna Sofia and Elizabeth try to tell other girls that God’s desire for them is to stay at home, simply serving their families (and their fathers in particular) until they marry (or forever, if they don’t marry), because God never said that.
I believe, like the Botkin sisters, that we should cast a godly vision for our daughters (and sons, too, for that matter). However, unlike the Botkins, I don’t believe that vision must be limited to being helpers at home. I believe that God’s vision for our unmarried daughters can be much greater than this. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 7:34 that the desire of an unmarried Christian woman is to serve the Lord--not to serve her father. When she marries, her concern becomes how to please a person, her husband, rather than God alone. This runs counter to the teaching purported by the Botkins. To them, serving one’s father (a person) as an unmarried girl is the only way one can serve the Lord.
I understand that they even go so far as to criticize the missionary work of Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor, single women who dedicated their entire lives to serving God and others in foreign countries. Instead, they hold up untried teenagers as “heroines of the faith” simply for deciding to stay home until marriage. Does anyone else see the irony here?
It’s like a sword in my heart when I see people recommend this book as second only to the Bible in its importance for young women (as several did in the Amazon reviews). My heart is so broken that this erroneous, extra-biblical teaching by two young girls would be seen as more important than any other spiritual book ever written. Where is our discernment?!
I have held back from writing anything about it because I thought that surely its influence could not be that widespread. Frankly, I was leery of even giving it more press than it’s already gotten. I've hesitated, too, because it will sound just plain weird to a lot of my readers--weird in a "How could anyone fall for this?" kind of way. But it seems that everywhere I turn (at least among certain segments of home schoolers) I see it recommended. I am blown away...amazed...grieved...that this hyper-patriarchal model is becoming increasingly viewed as biblical. I am not speaking without experience here. Not only have I myself fallen prey to teachings not expressly found in scripture, I have also seen this very teaching lived out with truly tragic consequences.
Please, before we jump on the bandwagon of a “visionary” teaching that looks so good, let’s lay aside our feelings and hold it up for a stiff comparison to God’s Word. Don't be deceived. I beg you, don’t subject yourself or your daughters to a yoke that He never laid on the shoulders of His children.
For some well-reasoned discussion on the Botkin sisters and their teachings check out these two conversations:
Online Interview With the Botkin Sisters
(This is about the interview, not the interview itself. It links to the interview, however.)
Warning: They are long!