For Shame, Beautiful Botkins

With the very first issue of Patriarch magazine twenty years ago, my husband eschewed the Patriarchy Movement. Every since then, I’ve followed it from afar, often with concern, especially upon finding that some patriarchal churches wanted to keep unsaved people out, lest their children be tainted.

It was with grief that I saw recently that one of the Patriarchs of Patriarchy had fallen, and his organization, Vision Forum, along with it. I say grief, not because I thought of Doug Phillips as incapable of falling, but because I grieve for the many people who put so much faith in him, and especially for the women and children who have been genuinely victimized—spiritually, emotionally, physically—in the Patriarchy Movement.

Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin

In reading various websites recently, I came again to the Botkin sisters, the beautiful Botkins, who I knew had written their book So Much More over eight years ago when they were around 17 and 19.  The “so much more” that they outlined and still espouse was for young unmarried girls like themselves—the way to achieve so much more than the modern culture is by staying at home until you marry. Until you marry, serve your father.

Now these young women are 26 and 28, staying at home and serving their father. How do they serve their father? Besides “submitting to his whims,” “reverencing and adoring him,” they serve him by speaking and writing on the importance of unmarried girls staying home and serving their father.

In many cases, for a young unmarried woman to stay home can be exactly the right thing (though the concept of serving the father can go to exaggerated and disturbing lengths). But it most certainly is not a Biblical mandate. The Botkin sisters—and all of Patriarchy along with them—teach that if a woman isn’t building the Kingdom of the Man in her life, she will be building her Own Kingdom. There is no other option.

I tossed and turned last night, thinking about all this again. I write missionary books. I wrote one about one of the very first missionaries to the Central African Republic, Margaret Nicholl, a young unmarried woman, who saw God do great things there (and incidentally, met her husband there).

Several of my missionary books have referenced the work of another woman, Joy Ridderhof, who in fact never married, but instead founded the ministry called Gospel Recordings, which has been of incalculable value to missionaries from the 1940s even to the present day.

According to the beautiful Botkins and the Patriarchy Movement as a whole, both of these missionary women, along with many others such as the intrepid Amy Carmichael (whom I also wrote a book about!), were outside the will of God. All of them should have stayed home under their fathers.

Yes, the Patriarchals do give a nod to missions. They teach in their two-hundred-year plan that Christianity will dominate the world. But this plan appears to me to be eerily similar to the way Muslims teach that Islam will dominate the world: by having a lot of children. Building their earthly dynasties.

Sorry to say, but the Kingdom of Islam has got us beat hands down on that one. By birth, Muslims are winning, and until Christians advocate polygamy, we won’t be able to catch up.

But do you know what religion is winning the growth race when it comes to conversions? Christianity. There is no contest here—Christianity is the clear winner. Through the opening of the eyes of the blind—yes, even Muslims—Jesus Christ is being glorified and His Kingdom is spreading throughout the earth. This is what I write books about.

However, for a young unmarried woman in Patriarchy, life is not about building the Kingdom of Jesus Christ through the powerful spread of His glorious Gospel of Grace. It can’t be, because then there might be a conflict between Christ and her Earthly Father. The Kingdom of her Earthly Father must be supreme.

This is not about “the world” that must never darken the doors of “the chosen.” It is not about feminism vs. true womanhood. This is a battle of kingdoms.

For shame, beautiful Botkins. Stop focusing on the Kingdom of Man, and focus instead on the Kingdom of the mighty Savior Jesus Christ, through His glorious Gospel of Grace.

He is the transformer of lives. His is the Kingdom that matters.

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Heidi
Heidi
7 years ago

Thank you. I’ve read quite a bit on this as well, and it brings so many emotions into my heart, because of all the people I know and love who believe much of this, and also because I believed some of it up until probably 4-5 years ago, and it is sad to me to think of the way we bind ourselves to so many rules instead of to Christ alone, and then serve brothers and sisters out of that very solid foundation.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Hello, thank you for your thoughts. As a member of the Botkin’s church, may I speak from experience for a moment? The Botkin ladies are often very misunderstood, the whole family actually. From personal experience, I have known these girls to be absolutely breathtaking examples of Biblical femininity, joy, and a peaceful and gentle spirit. They are constantly extending themselves to talk to and encourage those who are alone, will give you their full attention during conversation, and are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to those around them. Funny thing is – the girls are actually quite introverted and terrified of public speaking!!!

Anyway, this article addressed the few disagreements I DO have with the Botkins. They DO teach that women must absolutely stay home and “serve” their fathers until marriage, and that any sort of job or ambition outside of the family would be making another man their “head” and therefore would be disrespectful and rebellious. To this, I greatly disagree.

HOWEVER – something that people might not understand also, is that while Elizabeth and Anna Sofia are in their upper-twenties, they are not rejecting marriage nor sitting at home, holed up. There really isn’t a better place for these girls to be right now than at home, considering their growing family business and in-depth church involvement. They’re not wasting their time away – actually, I would argue that they’re more productive than most women their age, married or single.

(If you were to ask the girls today about what they wrote in their first book, “So Much More”, they wouldn’t support everything they wrote back then. They have matured, and their views on daughterhood have changed. )

It would definitely be worthwhile for me to sit down and actually discuss with them what they mean by all these things they say and that people say about them. But, until then, I can tell you what I know and point others to what Scripture says on the issue, that “an unmarried woman is concerned with the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.” – 1 Cor. 7:34. If that means staying home and ministering to her family, then so be it. However, if it means leaving the home with the blessing of your father in order to serve the Lord in other capacities – I do not believe that is wrong.

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[…] am so grateful that Rebecca has allowed me to share her original article with you here. […]

buddy
buddy
7 years ago

The most disturbing thing is the obey and submit, make no mistake, these girls along with the Duggar girls have one thing in their future, just being a help meet to their husbands.

Iokaste
Iokaste
7 years ago

To “Anonymous”: The fact alone that you refer to these two women in their late 20s as “the girls”, says enough. I’m the same age as Anna Sophia and Elizabeth and I’m definitely not a “girl”.
Rebecca, thank you for this piece that I hope will somehow find its way to the people who need to hear it the most, peole trapped in patriarchy.
I do feel the need to ask you though, why it is so important for you to keep stressing the appearance of the Botkin sisters? Would this situation be okay if they were not perceived to be pretty? Isn’t the focus on female beauty one more aspect used against women in patrirachal thinking?
Kind regrads,
Iokaste

Todd
Todd
7 years ago

Unfortunately the article drips with a degree of resentment and sarcasm. While the “patriarchy movement” is flawed, which is the story of mankind, the pure idea of patriarchy in God’s Word is very clear and has his backing. The illusion here is that obeying and submitting is bad… it actually helps bring freedom, when done out of obedience to the Lord. Think Daniel and Joseph. Their high degree of submission and obedience, to ungodly men, actually was a doorway to them becoming some of the most powerful people of their time. Women, and men, submitting in the authority structures as God ordained is actually a form of worship to the Lord and his protection. There is abuse to be sure, but just because the devil attacks us doesn’t mean that God’s way of doing things needs us to make some changes to it. Jesus was perfectly obedient, that’s our example. Unfortunately, not only has feminism pulled us off, but more importantly we men have not been good stewards and instead of being selfless and loving as Christ is… are often selfish, neglecting our families and others. The good news is that Jesus blood covers all our faults and failures if we allow him to, and humble ourselves. This article is deceptive, and it appears written out of hurt and resentment that hasn’t been dealt with. Through repentance yourself and forgiving those who hurt you, the Lord will bring freedom. On behalf of men and the “church” would you please forgive us? Wish you well. God bless.

Eleanor Skelton
Eleanor Skelton
6 years ago

I am referencing this in my next blog post. ^_^

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Why do you say you left fundamentalism? | Eleanor Skelton
6 years ago

[…] Rebecca Davis wrote about why being a stay-at-home daughter is not a Biblical mandate in her post For Shame, Beautiful Botkins. She defends single female missionaries the Botkins […]

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[…] Davis wrote about why being a stay-at-home daughter is not a Biblical mandate in her post For Shame, Beautiful Botkins. She defends single female missionaries the Botkins […]

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[…] written elsewhere about how if I had had my way 27 years ago, we as a homeschooling family would have gone into […]

Jessica
Jessica
6 years ago

Hi Mrs. Davis,

Interesting post. I was doing a search on the Botkins, and your blog came up on the results page, so I was interested to read what you had to say. I can very much say I agree with you and share your feelings toward the patriarchy movement. I’m glad to know I’m not one of the only ones who saw there was something wrong with most of the viewpoints from Vision Forum and the like. Those sort of views left me very confused; I wasn’t sure if I was being selfish/sinful many times with what was preached. There were things such as women shouldn’t go to college and work outside the home (Not to say that your children shouldn’t be your first priority, but if you don’t have children, or the work doesn’t conflict with God/family, it can be unreasonable to expect that.), the very rigid ideas on modesty, very strict courtship rules (such as no alone dates together even in a public setting, and other such things that are a bit counterintuitive seeing how the parents seemed to have taught their children many things that should be able to prepare them for adulthood, yet when they are in a relationship, they’re treated as young children again who cannot make their own mistakes or even be trusted with the values instilled in them) pretty much having as many children as possible…it can leave your head spinning on what is wrong and what is right. I discovered later on, that most of these teachings aren’t even in the Bible, such as serving your father as if he is God; I knew there was something wrong there. It seems the patriarchy movement may be about control; the fathers are the masters, with wives and children serving them in an unhealthy way. I see a lot of pride and hypocrisy coming from that as well.

I received the Botkin’s movie, Return of the Daughters a number of years ago and can say I wasn’t impressed. While I’m sure many of those young women are very godly, I can say the ideas were far out there and not what the Bible teaches.

Oftentimes conflicting ideas can enter in. Is it selfish to pursue such-in-such? Am I being ungodly because I desire this? I remember the Botkin’s movie more or less teaching about how it was selfish to go to college, that a daughter should stay home. This can easily leave a young woman wondering if she’s being selfish for having dreams and goals and it can hinder her if she can’t leave the confines of her home. Of course, there are times when dreams and goals can become an idol and get in the way of serving God and others, but I don’t think wholesome dreams and goals are wrong in of themselves; they can be very healthy and teach structure, hard work, and values! Plus, God can use many different life paths for us to do His work. Often, there are many choices that would equally please Him, and every person is unique and has a different set of circumstances. While an earthly father could be a good representation of God if the father is trying his best to emulate Christ, an earthly father is still a man and this movement very much idolizes him. Plus, there are some homes that don’t have the best father figure or no father in the picture at all. This is where we remember our true father is in Heaven.

So in all, I see through the false teachings of the movement, though that isn’t to say it’s always easy to always see through it after being taught a lot of their teachings. It seems a lot of damage comes from that way of thinking. Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips were both called out in sex scandals. Doug Phillips taught profusely about protecting daughters, keeping them at home, purity, etc., yet went again his own advice with another man’s daughter. Seeing how these scenarios happened more than once among people in those circles show that there is something very wrong with those teachings, that when law is focused on too hard, it’s difficult to enjoy freedom in Christ’s grace.

SK
SK
6 years ago

I read both the article and much of the commentary at the end, and I must say I think you misinterpret the Botkins and their mission and focus entirely. I know all of the Botkins personally (Mr. And Mrs., the young ladies, and all five sons), and I am in their home regularly. I can say from experience that neither the “girls” nor the “boys” in any way revere or idolize Mr. Botkin, though they do all place a high emphasis on his wishes and opinions (as any obedient child should do for both his mother and his father). They are not “building man’s kingdom”, the kingdom of their father, or any kingdom besides the kingdom of God. In fact, perhaps you should listen to more of Mr. Bokin’s messages— he talks often about following the Lord and building God’s kingdom instead of your own or anyone else’s.

For the record, the Botkin ladies have a blog, write books, produce films, invest in the local church, help maintain their home, and do a host of other things. They are more productive than most of the other women I know (including those who went to college and have degrees).

Much of what you are complaining about was never propagated by the Botkins themselves, but by others who misunderstood the message.

I would also like to point out that no one used any scripture to back up their statements that the Botkin ladies are wrong about patriarchy, girls staying at home, or girls not attending college. The Botkins are fond of Scripture, and I do not see any place where they have misinterpreted it. Anyone care to back up their arguments from the Bible?

-SK

Melissa
Melissa
5 years ago

To the crazy people calling these 30-ish-year-old women “girls”: Girls cease in being girls at 18. For the rest of their lives they are properly identified as women. A 30-year-old is most certainly a woman. Thank you.

writerhelenrdavis
3 years ago

I know i’m late to the post, but well said!

april61
april61
3 years ago

Hello, kindred spirit. Thank you for your blog.

april61
april61
3 years ago

I could have written your first two sentences of this post: “With the very first issue of Patriarch magazine twenty years ago, my husband eschewed the Patriarchy Movement. Every since then, I’ve followed it from afar, often with concern…” Thank the Lord for our wise husbands! And thank you for your blog. I pray the Lord continues to use it to open eyes for His glory.

Bypassing Reader
Bypassing Reader
1 year ago

Had never heard of the Botkin sisters until recently. If you ask me, they need to get themselves into psychotherapy because what their father is doing to them is dangerously close to emotional incest. Very, very toxic…in or out of the church!

Trev Noceurt
Trev Noceurt
5 months ago

As a psychotherapist, your concoction of a condition called “emotional incest” is just a manufactured phrase for shock value. As a couple previous posts indicate from people who have actually been in the home and church of the Botkins, they have observed NO toxicity or emotional incest.

You’re simply projecting your disdain for their lifestyle choices onto them and making judgments that are not founded upon evidence provided by their own materials or from the posts here. I’m fine about people making judgments, but they must be based in evidence and observations, not subjective opinions.

Just as the Botkins and others in the Patriarchy Movement should not be looking down upon those who live according to liberties their conscience and Scripture support; so it should be the practice of those outside of their circles to resist the temptation to do the same.

I know SEVERAL families who have daughters into their 20’s & 30’s who remain at home and are healthy in all facets of their functioning. Do they long to be married? Absolutely. But they use the time they have to serve their parents, their younger siblings, their church, and their community. It’s beautiful to behold.

Do I speak against dads who turn away young man after young man who come a’calling to court these daughters? Absolutely. Some of these dads expect a 4-star general at 20-25 years old, yet either forget or ignore where they were spiritually at those ages. It’s better for dads to look for “diamonds in the rough:” those who demonstrate a CLEAR, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ (observed in paternal discipleship–Titus2–to these young men); an OVERT love and application of God’s Word; and OBSERVABLE fruits of repentance & salvation when interacting with others that will typically lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and disappointments. Many privates and corporals are turned away by VERY unrealistic expectations by authoritarian fathers, which, of course, gives Patriarchy a bad rap.

I would encourage you to investigate the Botkins more, since their materials are readily available, before making drive-by judgments as a “Bypassing Reader.”

Anna Olson
Anna Olson
10 months ago

I am a teenage girl who greatly admires the Botkin sisters. I have read this article and the comments and there are a few things that I did not see mentioned. Rebecca seemed, from her article and replies to comments, to be concerned about the Botkin sisters leading girls into abusive relationships with their fathers by encouraging them to stay home instead of going off to college or chasing a career. While I understand the concern, I would like to point out that many girls get into abusive relationships by doing the exact opposite, leaving home for years and putting themselves in situations with abusive men without the protection or wisdom of their fathers to guild them. I hear often of things like this happening and I have not heard one story about a girl becoming an abuse victim of her father because she decided to stay home instead of go to college. I believe the Botkin sisters has been blessed with a wise and loving father and that they are gained and done so much by staying home and working with him. Rebecca seemed to say that their only work was writing “propaganda” books to support their father’s Patriarchal views and she applauded single missionary women instead. I am not in agreement with the Botkin sisters that a woman must never leave home unless married or never become a single missionary but I do think that it is not necessary for woman to travel around the globe or even have leave home to evangelize. I have had the honor to travel around my state putting on evangelistic clubs for children and got to lead many of them to Chirst, without being an hour’s drive from my home. The Botkin sisters are doing so much for Christ and are trying to tackle the many lies that our culture feed to young people, especially girls; such as the necessity of going to college and the undervaluing of children, marriage and father-daughter relationships. Fathers are meant to protect their daughters and to keep them from unwise relationships. Feminism has taught us that submission is evil, that to be a strong woman we must throw off any male protection or guidance and speak our minds at any cost; that marriage is suppressive and children are burdens. These are lies that have terrible consequences on thousands of girls around the globe and I believe they wreck lives. The Botkin sisters are encouraging girls to serve the Lord wholeheartedly but to pursue good relationships with their families and especially their fathers first, so that when they fight for God’s Kingdom, they will not be unprepared for it’s lies and temptations.