[alternative title: The One Where they Use the “S” word]
Get ready because this one is a doozy.
“Perhaps the most spiritually foundational chapter in the book is Chapter Four, about your duty of submission. Please pray for a responsive heart before you read it” (7).
In other words, check your natural gut reaction at the door, and if you are balking at our ideas about submission then you must have a rebellious heart against God. Sorry, but since I think it’s good to think critically, I don’t think I’ll be checking my brain or heart at the door for the rest of this book.
“There is one scriptural command for women that stands out…. This is submission…. we are fully aware that ‘submission’ is seen as a dirty word in our generation…” (33)
But don’t worry, submission isn’t a bad thing! “What is there in God’s pattern for authority and submission that is not wonderful, wise, loving, and perfect? We should rejoice in it and make the most of it” (34)!
I don’t know, what is there about submission that’s not wonderful? Maybe just hierarchy and the fact that women are told they shouldn’t think for themselves, but you know, those aren’t huge things and we should just ignore that and rejoice! Besides, thinking for yourself is dangerous, and it’s a good thing that you have your father or husband to do that for you! Otherwise you might come to dangerous conclusions!
“…God’s design gives each women, whether married or unmarried, a protective head to whom she must submit. As we have said before, a woman’s life will always be tied into a man’s life, whether she is married or not. This is a basic feature of womanhood, and women are to be dependent on men’s protection and leadership. This is how God created it to be” (34, emphasis added).
Okay, so women are always to be dependent on a man. Let’s see where the Botkin sisters take this in relation to daughters:
“God has placed our fathers in a position of authority over us, and to disobey them is to disobey God, unless the two come in direct conflict with one another. A father does not have the authority to make his daughter commit sin, because his authority is limited…” (35, emphasis added).
I’m glad at least that they Botkin sisters acknowledge that not all fathers are perfect and allow an exception for cases of “sin,” but…to disobey your father is to disobey God?
And “disobey” to the Botkins does not just mean doing something your father expressly told you not to do, it means making sure you don’t believe anything different than your father.
Consider the testimony of Ruth,
“One of the ways I show submission to my father is by asking his opinion—Daddy is my God-given authority. I want to honor him by knowing his thoughts and views so that I can properly represent him and be able to understand and articulate what I believe” (35, emphasis added).
Ruth believes that in order to be a God-honoring submissive father, she must parrot her daddy’s beliefs. She believes she cannot have her own convictions about things.
And if that’s not bad enough, she continues: “If he [her father], for instance, has a preference in colors that I wear, I seek to honor him by finding that out and dressing in a way that would please him” (35).
I honestly feel sorry for Ruth. She really believes she cannot have her own opinions because to do so would go against God. And she honestly believes that it is God-honoring to wear clothes that her daddy likes. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find this a little creepy because typically that is something you do for someone you’re romantic with. You know, your husband or significant other thinks you look hot in a certain outfit or color, so you wear that when you’re with him because you want to appear attractive to him.
So Ruth wants to appear attractive to her father? I’m afraid to speculate further.
The Botkin sisters admit that it is hard to submit to your father like this, but doing so means God will bless us: “Actively seeking our fathers’ authority and guidance and instruction can be difficult, especially when the things our fathers want for us are not what we want. But this is the pattern God lays down and our obedience is rewarded with blessings”(36). Once again, it’s do what we say and good things will happen to you.
Kelly struggled with this idea of submission, “I, on the other hand have a tendency towards questioning what he [father] says. ‘Why?’ I want to know. … ‘What if I don’t hold the same conviction you hold in this area?’” (37).
(Me: GO KELLY! THINK! THINK!)
“Because I was faithful in obeying, even when I didn’t understand, God blessed me with a change of heart. Not only do I obey and honor the commands of my father and mother, the convictions they hold are convictions I hold now! My heart was melted, and God convicted me in those same areas my father had conviction in. Only by the grace of God can I say that the commands of my father and the laws of my mother are in my mind and in my heart all the time” (37).
Or you were just sufficiently brainwashed, but if you want to call it God, go ahead.
Where in the Bible does it say that you have to have the same exact convictions as your parents? And that coming to your own conclusions about things is disobedient?
Because being a submissive daughter and not having your own beliefs about anything is an orthodox Christian belief and is essential to being a Christian. Except, not.
[Did the Botkin sisters even write this book or did their father just dictate to them?]
And despite what you may think, this doesn’t end when you reach a certain age. “The proverbs that extol the glory of our parents’ instruction never indicate that it’s just for little children and that girls with ‘good heads on their shoulders’ don’t need it” (38).
[When you get married, of course, you can parrot your husband’s beliefs instead of your fathers, but if you have a good father he’ll pick someone with the same beliefs. ]
Honoring your parents means more than just respecting them:
“Confiding in our fathers (and, of course, our mothers) is another way we can show them honor. When we let our father know our hearts—our struggles, our weaknesses, our hopes and dreams—it encourages them to pay closer attention to the instruction and guidance they give us. Our fathers can better protect us if they know our weaknesses and struggles and can better lead us when they know what direction we want to be going” (39).
Because you can’t just know for yourself what’s best. You have to try to let your father know you better than you know yourself because God only tells HIM what’s best for you. God doesn’t talk to you because you’re a woman and that would be inappropriate. And your father knows God better than you know God because he’s a man!
Now, there are two reasons why it’s hard for me to disagree and write these reviews about this book. First, because they’re so extreme sometimes I just don’t even know where to start. Secondly, it’s hard because they take a good idea and then mangle it beyond recognition. Like for instance, having a good relationship with your parents. Who doesn’t want that? Or seeking advice from your parents. Or letting your parents know your hopes and dreams. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things.
I am not against seeking the advice of parents. I am also not against having a good relationship with your parents. It’s when they start saying that you’re not allowed to have your own beliefs or your own dreams that I have a problem. Or that only your parents can know the plan for your life. It’s when they’re writing a whole book extrapolating ideas about fathers and daughters from a few verses. It’s when they’re applying verses about husbands and wives to fathers and daughters.
It’s when they are quoting girls saying things like: “The beautiful thing is, that as I begin supporting my father in his God-given ministry, I find that his convictions are becoming my convictions, his passions, my passions” (41) that make me have a big problem with their ideas.
Frankly I find a lot of “biblical” verses in their book, but nothing really “Christian.” You can talk about submission and honor until you’re blue in the face, but you’ve already lost the whole point of Christianity itself when you’ve stopped looking at the person of Jesus and let him fall to the sideline in order to argue for the way to be a “biblical” daughter or a biblical “father.”
I don’t see Jesus saying anywhere, “Daughters you must stay at home and wait for me to speak to your fathers. You are not to leave the home, and your dreams and talents must always be helping your earthly father accomplish his dreams. You are not to think for yourself, you are to let your father decide for you what you should believe. To be a follower of me, you must care only about what your earthly father tells you. ”
I actually think he said the opposite.
The Botkins are trying to turn the Christian life into a simple lists of do’s and don’ts, of roles and rules. They are trying to make it “safe” and “easy” by containing God with lines and boxes. And as nice and simple as that may sound, I don’t think that’s how pursuing God is supposed to work. I don’t think it’s supposed to make us feel safer, I think it’s supposed to lead us into more mystery and wonder.