Patriarchy on Trial, part four



Late night television host, Johnny Carson, used to do a spoof called Carnac the Magnificent where he donned a crazy costume and pretended to foresee the future. Perhaps his insights might be every bit as helpful as the variety of things I am reading these days about the future of the patriarchy moment in homeschooling. I have no sure answers as to where the patriarchs are all headed as, one by one, ministries embracing the basic teachings of patriarchy are tumbling down. But I do see some things that concern me greatly as well as some things I believe speak to the good health of the homeschooling spirit. Here are some of my rambling ideas and, as always, I welcome your thoughts and insights.

As the Common Core agenda continues to be advanced, homeschooling will continue to grow and with this growth comes even more diversity. This means that the profile of the average homeschooler will look even less like the 1980s variety of homeschooler than it does today. Denim jumpers, for the most part, have left the building and along with them the rigid lifestyles many still associate with homeschooling families. Articles like Home Educating Family’s Why I Let My Teens Date open the door to genuine, honest conversations about subjects that have formerly been taboo in Christian homeschooling circles.

The 2009 Homeschool Leadership Summit with its nonsensical manifesto was one of the last ditch efforts to attempt to control homeschooling on the part of the legalistic patriocentrist crowd. Those who embrace the fringe teachings within the homeschool culture will continue in their own distilling process, producing even more potent of an end product that is sure to leave an even more bitter taste in the mouth. There are still a few of those efforts today but, as my husband has often said, trying to organize all homeschoolers to do anything, because we are so naturally independent and stubborn, is like trying to herd cats. It will be even more difficult as homeschooling grows and new voices are heard above the patriocentric mantra. And, may I say, the real manly men are found in this new group!

Watch for this continuing diversity as even more Great Homeschool Conventions are coming to a town near you and local support groups of all flavors continue popping up. A number of years ago R.C. Sproul Jr. lamented the changes in homeschooling; I am excited about them. I see homeschooling coming full-circle and eventually returning to the ideals of the early days when a child’s education was actually about enabling children to pursue and excel at their dreams rather than attempting to upload them with personal preferences in order to fulfill the dreams of a parent’s guru.

Those who have promoted patriarchy, either outright, or by default and have kept silent out of fear, are starting to step up and speak out. They have not all been warmly received and, frankly, the jury is still out on the sincerity of some. Nonetheless, many are now willing to say what they have thought for many years, “Something is not right. This is not what homeschooling is all about!” Applause for the brave ones!

I believe this will naturally make way for more homeschooling moms to share what they have learned and to have genuine ministry to younger moms who want real encouragement rather than obligatory platitudes. Though those men-only folks who put on that 2009 summit and wrote their own manifesto chose to disenfranchise moms, everyone knows that without homeschooling moms, there will be no homeschooling. Gradually, those who plan conventions and organize homeschooling events will realize that moms who have been in the trenches are their greatest secret weapon against burnout and discouragement and will act accordingly.

And moms who are older, don’t think for a single minute that you are not needed and wanted. These younger moms tell me otherwise. Younger moms want to benefit from our years of living life, making mistakes, and finding grace. This was confirmed to me a while back when I was asked by my church to mentor a young woman who told me she asked for “an older woman who had been married for a really long time to the same man.” And how often have I heard the lament of young homeschooling moms who tell me that those of us who are “retired” from actual homeschooling and have moved on to new interests and don’t have time for them are a huge disappointment. This needs to change.

Even though patriarchy is not dead (but is wounded and even limping along in some places) there are those who are jockeying for the reigns of the patriocentric crowd, by one means or another. Scott Brown, current leader and spokesman for the National Center for the Family Integrated Church is currently advertising his internship program for young men, which appears to be amazingly similar to Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum model. If anything, this FIC leader is digging in his heels to further his patriocentric agenda. Stacy McDonald, continuing to promote her own particular paradigm of godly womanhood, is calling for the possible sidelining of the actual word “patriarchy,” but is in favor of holding tightly to the principles. Israel Wayne, whose recent attempts to sound like a kinder, gentler homeschooling leader, have been welcomed, even by some who have spoken out against patriarchy, but I believe he should be held up to greater scrutiny. Wayne’s long personal and family history in the homeschooling movement as well as his gracious and charming demeanor seem to have clouded the judgment of many who are just now saying they should have spoken up earlier against the Vision Forum agenda. But I have to ask, when it comes down to the core teachings of patriarchy, how are Wayne’s views any different that those taught by Phillips? Claiming that even courtship is not biblical, Wayne’s teachings on betrothal should not be overlooked as they place him squarely in the middle of patriocentricity. Are any of these teachings what we want to see promoted as mainstream?

A new, organized, and clearly focused group of former homeschool students, motivated, in part, by the bad fruits of patriocentric homeschooling, have taken up the banner for homeschooling reform, putting the very good ideals at the heart of homeschooling at risk. Their legitimate concerns over some instances of sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse of children have resulted in their misguided call for state-operated control over all homeschooling and have even extended to their advancement of “homosexual rights” for homeschooled children. Though I have had similar concerns about treatment of all children, homeschooled and otherwise, at the hands of adversarial methods, I do not share the solutions being advanced by this group! Let me encourage you to read through their websites to become aware of their agenda. I believe this group poses possibly the greatest threat to homeschooling freedoms we enjoy today and has largely been inspired by the patriarchy movement.

About 15 months ago, before any of this latest patriarchy nonsense came to light, I wrote a piece entitled Kitty Genovese Christians, encouraging us to be ever vigilant and pro-active when we see wrongs being committed against others and teachings that are counter to the Word of God. Let me encourage you to read it again and then ponder what may be coming our direction in the future. Let’s continue to put patriarchy on trial now and be prepared to do so down the road!

Any thoughts?




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  1. says

    Yes, Granddad, I think that sums it up quite well. Notice how your questions have yet to be answered? And notice how there is a blatant ignoring of my recent post giving homeschooling parents real tools for dealing with real, clearly defined abuse?

  2. Georgia says

    While you are at it, you should ask them to see a statement that allowing people who with poor reading comprehension homeschool their children does not constitute abuse. Because that’s a bit more relevant to you.

    As far as homosexuality, there are far more sections of the Bible endorsing patriarchy (the dictionary definition- “A form of social organization in which the father or oldest male is the head of the family”, not the definition you’ve made up in order to pretend not to endorse it) than there are about homosexuality.

  3. Keri says

    Georgia, Seriously? …Karen, this is what happens when you bring up homosexuality for all the wrong that it is. You are now an abusive parent because you typed my name wrong.

  4. says

    Georgia, I think you misunderstand the primary objections Karen (and I) have with patriarchy. It’s not the nice clean definition you’ve cited but the extreme views put forth by Vision Forum, et. al. that rely upon poor exegesis, especially of the Old Testament, and a questionable hermeneutical method. That is precisely the point of my two essays critical of VF [see].

    Unfortunately, the patriocentric people have hijacked the words ‘patriarchy and patriarchial’ distorting their meaning.

  5. says

    As far as Ryan’s statement that I am purposely trying to mislead people because of a previous conversation we had, I have been trying to find that conversation and spent a couple hours this week looking back through the timeline on Chris Jeub’s FB page but could not find it.

    Have you considered asking Ryan directly? He’s not too difficult to locate.

  6. says

    Julie Anne, what do you believe Christians parents should and should not teach about faith in Christ and the implications of that faith? Are there any absolute truths that can/should be taught that do not constitute control? What does a biblical worldview look like to you?

    I believe in raising our children in the way they should go, but not shoving it down their throats and also allowing them the freedom for them to seek scriptures themselves. They need to make decisions regarding their faith as God leads their heart, not because of fear or coercion by parents/church leaders.

    I’ve already shared a bit about how my daughter was taught solely YEC and how that became the beginning of her falling away. Even a few wks before our daughter abruptly left our home, she was out evangelizing and presented herself to be a Christian, so I was left in the dark about what she was struggling with spiritually. But what she heard from key influencers was that if she didn’t believe in YEC, how could she believe in the rest of the Bible if she was throwing away the accounts of creation? I wish I would have known the struggle she was facing, but she intentionally kept that from me.

    I’ve always been struck that in the Homeschool Movement I connected with (mostly online), the assumption would be that 100% of our children would turn out to be Believers if we “trained them the way they should go.” I now have 3 adult children and as I think about their peers, it doesn’t always work out the way we (homeschooling parents) had envisioned.

    Teaching an absolute truth is teaching an absolute truth. It’s something that you believe and for many, hope your children will believe. It doesn’t mean controlling them or not allowing them to think otherwise. No one has that right. We can show them scripture and explain why believe something, but ultimately, the decision is theirs whether to reject or hold onto our teachings. Why any parent would believe otherwise shows they are more concerned about control/ruling over rather their children rather than shepherding/guiding. And this is why I think so many SGAs are struggling as adults. Many of them were never allowed to think for themselves, make decisions for themselves, truly own what they believe. What many had was parroting of their parents “faith” which is really no faith at all.

    Do we have the right to force/coerce our children into making personal spiritual decisions? It seems to me that is getting in the way of God and allowing His work in their lives.

  7. says

    “Btw, I haven’t seen a comment on that thread since #413 so I am assuming I have now been blocked from reading that discussion. That has been several days so I think it can’t be a FB thing.”

    Ok, so if it’s not a Facebook thing, why are you assuming the worst, Karen? This is the second time you have assumed you have been blocked by Ryan and both times I asked Ryan directly and he said it’s been public the entire time and has not touched the privacy settings. Ryan is what I’d consider a professional debater. Do you really think he’s afraid to debate you and would block you?

    I’m seeing a disturbing pattern. You assumed you know about HARO/HA and spread misinformation when you could have easily have contacted Ryan and asked. Now you assume he blocked you twice but the deal is that you are using your forum to say your assumptions and it paints Ryan in a negative light. That’s not right.

    I went to him both times to ask him straight up. It’s so easy. It’s not right to trash someone and their character based on your preconceived ideas. It’s not believing the best in someone. Is it any wonder why there are divisions between the Old Guard? Come on, Karen, you can do better than this. I’m really disappointed in what I’m seeing here.

    BTW, I have a pdf of the conversation you are looking for. Guess where I got it? I got it from Ryan because I asked.

  8. Nancy says

    Keri and Karen – I apologize, I was mistaken and I am sorry for misattributing a statement by Keri to Karen. See how easy that is?

  9. says

    So, this is what is going to happen here.

    I am researching the organizations and those in their leadership and have decided that there is so much I would like to comment on that I am going to write a separate piece. It may take a bit because I have another project due next week.

    Julie Anne, I honestly don’t know what the FB issue is. {{{{shrug}}}

    If Ryan wants to send me a copy of the conversation that he has or if you want to post it here, that is fine.

    Also, I would like to ask that people who leave comments be more circumspect.

  10. Nancy says

    Karen, if you merely “research” the organizations and their leadership, and do not actually talk to the leaders, I can say with perfect accuracy that your piece is going to be a waste of your time. Please say that you will make a good-faith attempt to speak with the people at these organizations. They could surprise you pleasantly.

    I also don’t understand what you mean by being circumspect. I have not meant to cause offense, but I think that your assumptions are leading you down the wrong path. Remember, to “assume” makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”!

  11. says

    Julie Anne, I honestly don’t know what the FB issue is. {{{{shrug}}}
    If Ryan wants to send me a copy of the conversation that he has or if you want to post it here, that is fine.
    Also, I would like to ask that people who leave comments be more circumspect.

    1. The Facebook issue is that you have insinuated that Ryan has blocked you two times and that is why you couldn’t see his thread. I went out of my way to ask Ryan if he had done so when you could have done the very same thing, but instead you painted him in a negative light. There’s no shrugging about that – it’s wrong.

    2. If you want to know about the conversation that you couldn’t find, then the onus should be on you to ask about it, not me or Ryan (same with #1 – remember the pattern?)

    3. Be more circumspect? What do you mean by that?

  12. Keri says


    Circumspect: Cautious, prudent, discreet. (from the

    Assume: to take for granted or without proof.

  13. Scottie Moser says

    It might be helpful to examine the laws in Karen’s state, and how much scope is already there for oversight of a child’s welfare and education. I have no idea about that. Perhaps in her state she does not see a need for more legislation? … No doubt zealotry is behind some of the objection to new laws. But it could really be that some states have not used the laws which are already on the statute books, and more laws won’t help.

    I absolutely agree. And, if you take the time to examine the proposals on CRHE, so do they — in fact, they point to existing state laws (including laws already in place in IA, OR, ND, LA, GA, PA, OH, NC, AK, WA, WI, FL, and MD) as examples of what they recommend. And though the wording may in some places be vague, I don’t see why that would be problematic; the proposals are not bills that they would like passed verbatim, but recommendations for policies that they would like to see drafted into reasonable legislation.

    But so much as mention “legislation” or “regulation” or “laws” around some homeschool advocates, and the reaction is scarcely different from recommending we outlaw homeschooling altogether. In fact, the slippery-slope fallacy is often introduced to suggest that allowing the legal reach of even state government (not to mention federal government, for which CRHE does not currently seem to offer any proposals whatsoever) to exceed its current status quo will cause Them to strip away our nebulous freedoms until homeschooling is, effectively, illegal. (Never mind that the Them is our elected officials, and that if We The People choose to block or allow these proposals, there’s no reason to believe that We The People will not have the power to block or allow any theoretical future, less friendly proposals.)

  14. says

    So everyone is aware, I have placed all comments on this blog on moderation. I have never had to do this before and really regret the need. However, after hearing from those who shied away from the discussion because they didn’t want to also be personally attacked and others who found the tangents distracting from the meat of the topic, I am reading all comments before allowing them to be posted. Of course, I will still post dissenting views from my own but will not be allowing those that I feel to be personally abusive to my readers.

  15. Matt says

    Now,let me ask you this….can you prove to me why the government is the best option for homeschooling oversight? Is it based on the great record they have?


    I never implied that government has a great track record. What I am saying is that if social services had intervened with a few of the families I knew during childhood, their kids might have had a shot at getting in with a decent foster family and getting at least an adequate education. With their own parents, these kids had no chance.

    Instead, the kids were allowed to run wild and there was no education… better to not school ’em at all than let the government institutions indoctrinate ’em, I guess.

    It is too bad that the bad eggs ruined it for the competent homeschooling parents. But honestly, even the most proficient home educator can’t hold a candle to the instruction a kid would get in a halfway decent public high school. If reform is indeed impossible, then it would be just fine with me if home schooling were outlawed altogether.

  16. says

    Matt, I know more than a few public schooled children who might have had a decent life if they had been brought home and taught by loving parents rather than passed through a system and fell through the cracks!

    “even the most proficient home educator can’t hold a candle to the instruction a kid would get in a halfway decent public high school. If reform is indeed impossible, then it would be just fine with me if home schooling were outlawed altogether.”

    This is a very glamorized view of institutional education. Do you personally know any happy, productive adults who had been homeschooled? If not, let me introduce you to some.

  17. says

    But Karen! You just don’t understand! How can we get you to stop writing about this, if we don’t repeatedly try to derail the thread, or accuse you of various nonsense?

  18. says

    @ Jack:
    I don’t understand your post. What exactly do you want Karen to stop writing about? Is it issues with homeschooling versus public/private schooling, or is it the critique of teachings eminating from Swanson, Phillips, etc?


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