Read the original post here - I posted under the name of Chryssie, short for Chrysanthemum Rose, as I was writing under a pseudonym those days. I answered these questions 11 years ago, and holy fucking shit was I in such a different place back then.
I happened upon this article last week, and while I remember going through the process of answering all of those questions, I can’t remember my answers. And yes, I know, my answers are all right there, but I don’t remember giving them. I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor to re-answer the questions because who I am today is night and day different than who I was at 21 years old.
Also, just head’s up…this is going to be really long.
Part 1: Introductory Questions
Question 1: Please introduce yourself before we get started. Are you married or unmarried? Are you in school, holding down a job, or staying home? Do you have children? What religious beliefs or lack thereof do you ascribe to today? Provide whatever additional information you like.
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: In an effort to be anonymous, I’ll go by Chryssie, and I am 21. I am the oldest of 9; 5 boys and 4 girls. I recently got married as of May, 2011 to an amazingly caring and loving man who is nothing like my dad. I am currently staying home, and enjoying not having to deal with hellish jobs. We are enjoying married life before we take the plunge and have a kid. I’m not honestly sure how to describe where I am beliefs wise right now. I 100% believe in God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I know God gave his son to die for my sin, forgiven me, sees me as righteous, and has given me freedom through his son. Everything else is a bit sticky for me.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I’m Maeve, and I have been with my nesting partner for 14 years, 12 years married in May. We are nonmonogamous/polyamorous, and I have another partner who is not my nesting partner. I am currently in the process of returning to school in what will hopefully be a long term attempt to get degrees in Psychology to become a therapist. We have two children, 9 and 6, and while I do not regret my children, I wish I had known not having a kids had been an option back then. I am paid by the state to be a caregiver for my youngest, and otherwise, I am a stay at home parent. I left all forms of religion 7 years ago, and now identify as a Pagan Witch.
Question 2: How did your parents first come under the influence of Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull teachings? What leaders did they follow and what publications did they receive?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I don’t remember when my parents first came in contact with Bill Gothard, Michael/Debi Pearl and company. I think they were introduced to it when we started to go to a small house church that was pretty strong in their opinions. I do remember going to several Pearl child training seminars with my parents and my siblings, and I remember my mom being pretty attached to Created to be His Help Meet, No Greater Joy magazines, and some magazine the Pearls did too, I think, and my dad getting Quit You Like Men magazines.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I actually don’t have a whole lot to add to my original answer above. I would have been 6 years old when my parents made the switch from “basic” baptist, to fundamental evangelical christianity. I would also add that we attended several Above Rubies’ weekend long conferences too. I think the last one was when I was between the ages of 10 and 13. Along with the books mentioned above, my parents also followed BabyWise and followed the Pearls’ recommendations for spanking sticks.
Question 3: In what ways was your family a “typical” Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull family? In what ways was it “atypical”?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My dad was definitely the head of the home, and he was the “mediator” between God and all of us, my mom included. My parents believed very strongly in the Pearls child training books, and my dad definitely had to have complete control no matter what. We weren’t given specific guidelines for what we were supposed to wear or not wear. Nor who we were supposed to hang out with or not. Besides minding our P’s & Q’s in public, I can’t remember anything else that was definitely CP/Q minded.
With my dad in the military, we were definitely atypical in that we moved around a lot, ended up in a lot of different Reformed Baptist churches, and even in a few home churches. Like I said, dress codes, friends, families we got together with were pretty “normal” in the way that not every family we got together with believed the same things we did.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: my parents demanded immediate, cheerful, and quick obedience in response to every thing they told us to do or not do. We were not allowed to watch any movie or show that my parents hadn’t previously screened. While my dad was head of the house, he did not participate in chores or meals. He merely ruled over all of us with pretentious authority, punishing everyone at will regardless of whether they deserved it or not. All of us kids were required to do everything around the house from laundry to cooking to cleaning, while still being required to do our schoolwork.
My mother was quite adept at body shaming and checking my sisters and I and making sure our clothes fit the modesty rules. I was the “third parent” in the house, as I raised my siblings more than our actual parents. My siblings and I were regularly told that we had each other to play with, and didn’t need outside friends. We were intentionally isolated from anyone who didn’t agree with my parents’ beliefs. My parents controlled all forms of media in our house, including ripping pages out of books like Johnny Tremain, and other things they thought was inappropriate for us to read or watch or see.
All of my siblings and I were home schooled, and my mother did a horrendous job teaching. She didn’t teach anything other than teaching us to read. I was then responsible for my own schooling, as was the rest of my siblings. This is why it’s taken me 13 years to even consider going back to school. In all of these ways, my family was a typical CP/Q family.
We were atypical in that my dad was in the military, and we were rarely in the same place for long. But that’s pretty much it.
Part 2: Living the Life
Question 1: What sort of a church did your family go to while you were growing up? Were the other families who attended the church also involved in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: We were in and out of many churches throughout my life at home. Usually, we ended up at a Reformed Baptist church in one way or another. One of the home churches we were a part of had a few other large families and they seemed to also be caught up in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement. Ironically, most of those large families have fallen apart over the past 10 years.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: My dad’s go-to answer whenever I asked what kind of Christian we were was that we “are Reformed Baptists.” I’m still not entirely sure what that meant, but I assume that was his condensed term for fundamental, evangelical, patriarchal, calvinistic Christianity. Before the age of 6, we were members of a Grace Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Then after 6, we were in a small home church for about 3 years before my family and I moved to Wisconsin. It was in that first home church that my parents were exposed to CP/Q ideologies, and it didn’t take long before my parents moved us into those beliefs. In Wisconsin we were a part of 3 different home churches, all with similar beliefs. I suppose ironically, my dad kept getting kicked out of those little churches because his beliefs were too extreme for the other fathers. With the exception of one of those house churches, all of the others had families were always involved with the CP/Q movement.
Question 2: In many ways, every Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull couple has a different dynamic. What sort of a dynamic did your parents have? Was one more sold on the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology than the other? Or, if you grew up in a broken family, how did this affect your experience?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My parents definitely had the dynamic that my dad ruled and my mom quietly submitted and didn’t question or challenge her husband. I would say my dad was completely, and I believe still is, sold on the CP/Q ideology. My mom has been passive and enabling of him up till this past year, and is now learning the courage to stand up to him and challenge him in how he treats her and my siblings.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: okay, truth talk. I’m not sure what I was talking about in my answer above. My mother never did what I said she did. I was the one who stood up for my siblings, and ultimately, I put my foot down against his treatment of me, and that resulted in my dad kicking me out of the house. I have no idea what my mother thought about the CP/Q ideology. I know she backed up my dad, and I remember her touting Created To Be His Helpmeet (Debi Pearl) as the go to marriage book, and other moms looking at her like she was speaking gobbledy-gook. Whatever my dad said went, and my mother had her ways of undermining him, such as letting us kids do something he had explicitly said no to. My parents fought a lot, especially during the beginning of my teens. They were never affectionate with each other, and then when they were, it was gross and looked fake to me. And that was how I saw it as a kid. Towards the end of my teens, my mother put her foot down and forced my dad into Covenant Life Church, when it was still the flagship church for Sovereign Grace ministries. I asked her why, and she said she was sick and tired of my dad rebelling against god and she hoped the pastoral systems at CLC would get him back in line.
My parents are now divorced and I believe their divorce was finalized in 2022 or 2021. I have only heard those details through my siblings as I don’t speak to either parent anymore. My mother left my dad because she caught him cheating on her. It is gross to me that THAT is what made her leave. Not the years of abuse, or anything else.
It’s been over a decade since I last spoke to my dad, and 8 years since I spoke to my mother.
Question 3: How often did you, your siblings, and your parents read the Bible? Were you guided by your parents or pastors in how to interpret the Bible, especially certain passages, or were you generally free to form your own ideas about what the Bible said?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I got into the habit, around the age 14, of reading my bible every day and memorized a lot of scriptures. That was because I wanted to, not because I was told to, though. My siblings and I really resented family devotions, and for a good number of years, when we were all still pretty young, managed tolerate them. As we all got older though, we saw how hypocritical my dad was, and very few of us had any patience with sitting down and hearing him tell us what to believe. we were told what the bible said and why, and that was that. My dad is truly a gifted speaker, and there is no arguing with him unless you want to go in continual circles. He had the ultimate say when it came to how a verse was interpreted or how it implied to certain situations.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: As a pre-teen, and then a teenager, I read my bible every day because I was told to. It was literally something my mother made me put on my school planner for a daily task. I had several years during my mid to late teens were I read my bible because I wanted to. I honestly had no idea that I could form my own opinions about any part of the bible. I wanted to please my dad, so I simply regurgitated his words. We had family devotional times almost every night of the week for a few years, and then it was once a week as some of my siblings and I were in our teens.
When I was 18-20 years old, I tried to start thinking for myself and interpreting the bible how I believed it meant, and parents and the pastors at CLC both crashed down on me, twisting my words and using their “correct” interpretations to trump mine and force me back into submission. I was gaslit and shamed for trying to “know god” outside of my dad’s “direct connection” to god.
Question 4: What role did race play in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull community in which you grew up? Were there any black or Hispanic families? Were they treated differently?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I’m not aware of any black or Hispanic families that were treated differently in any of the circles my family went through. We really didn’t have many diverse friends growing up, and I think that more had to do with where we lived. Where my family lives now, they, and my husband and I, have a lot of friends who are black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I know now, 11 years later, how incredibly racist my parents and the patriarchal environments are. We were never in contact with anyone who wasn’t white. We lived next door to an interracial family when we lived in Wisconsin (2002-2005/6 roughly) and my parents always treated the kids weirdly and never really acknowledged the wife who was Black. I vaguely remember when Voddie Bauchman became a big name, and my parents refused to read his books even though several other people in their acquaintances were raving about him.
I’m frankly ashamed of my answer above. I was only a year and a half out from getting away from my family, and had barely started deconstructing. I had no idea how incredibly toxic and harmful the religion and beliefs of my childhood had been. Throwing out how many BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) people my partner and I had in our life back then is so embarrassing to me now. I do not believe it should matter whether I know BIPOC people personally or not, I am actively breaking down my ingrained racism and intentionally seeking to be anti-racist in everything I do now.
Part 3: A Gendered Childhood
Question 1: How many siblings did you grow up with? Did responsibilities in your family differ by gender, with the girls having certain chores and the boys having others? Explain.
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I have 8 wild and crazy siblings. For the most part, chores around the house were done by both my brothers and sisters. Cooking and cleaning the kitchen after meals was pretty much a girl’s job and my brothers only cleaned the table off and swept the floor, but weren’t made to do the dishes. The outside around the yard jobs were definitely given to the boys more often than us girls.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I am the oldest of 9 kids, 4 AFAB (assigned female at birth) and 5 AMAB (assigned male at birth). Responsibility for cleaning and cooking rested almost exclusively on my shoulders. My brothers were forced to clean bathrooms, and their room. But the rest of them got out of most of the chores, leaving me and one sister to do the vast majority of them. Beyond my dad cleaning the cars, and cutting the grass, I cannot remember him doing any other chores around the house. Besides my mother doing laundry, I can’t remember her doing any chores either.
Question 2: If you were an older daughter, do you feel that you were expected to play “mother” for your younger siblings? Explain.
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Oh heck yes. Being the oldest, and a girl, I was in charge of at least one child at any given time, sometimes more when my other siblings didn’t do their jobs. Which was usually the case. My two youngest brothers, and now my youngest sibling/sister, still look at me at mommy figure, because of how much time I spent with them, caring for them, working on school with them, and keeping them out of mom’s hair. When I tried to move out on my own about three years ago, my dad’s, and mom’s, biggest “concern” was that I was going to hurt my siblings because I wouldn’t be around anymore. I felt a huge responsibility for my siblings’ wellbeing and their care, and my parents knew that, so it got used to manipulate me frequently. My siblings were all pretty annoying, but I do love them all very much. Ironically, after I got kicked out of the house, two years ago, my siblings started falling apart.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: oh honey, my heart hurts for younger me. Being oldest, and an AFAB person, who now identifies as non-binary, I was the mom at home. I raised my two youngest brothers when my mother went through breast cancer. I felt that it was my job to protect my siblings from my dad and to keep them out of trouble as much as I could. Because of how seriously I took my role, I was always a bit removed from my siblings and I felt isolated and lonely and excluded from them because they saw me as someone who got do things that they didn’t and hated me for that.
Question 3: In what ways were boys and girls in your family expected to dress or act differently from each other? Were there certain things it was appropriate for girls to do but not boys, and vice versa?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: The only difference I can think of, or remember, is that the girls were supposed to wear dresses or skirts to church, and the boys polo shirts, or dress shirts, with nice pants. Otherwise, we didn’t have many clothing guidelines other than modesty standards on something being too short or too low for the girls. I wore pants, shorts, skirts, dresses…basically anything I felt like wearing that was within the modesty standards, I wore it.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: The subtle ways my parents controlled my clothing choices and my body weren’t visible until a handful of years ago when I really started digging into that. They were subscribed to purity culture, and believed that my body, as an AFAB person, would cause my “brothers in christ” to stumble. So I had to cover up, no necklines under my collar bones, no short shorts, had to wear dresses or skirts to church, and nothing tight…ever. My brothers were allowed to wear almost anything, I think. I mean, my dad and brothers did professional cycling and wore tight tight cycling shorts for their races, so….
Question 4: In what ways were boys and girls in your family raised differently vocationally (i.e., the boys pushed toward careers and the girls pushed toward homemaking)? How did this play out as you came of age (apprenticeship, college, staying home, etc.)?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: None of us, except for maybe the brother after me, were really pushed in any direction college or not. By the time I was 16, I was highly encouraged to find a job of some sort. my 13 year old sister at the time was already doing a lot of babysitting jobs. I never was encouraged towards college, so I never really thought about it. I always thought I’d be like my mom with having tons of kids and being a wife at home. I now am completely against doing that.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I have no idea what the fuck I was talking about being pushed to find a job. My mother explained that if I wanted my own money, I had to find my own job. My first jobs were working at an antique store as a cleaner, and my mother always asked me to pay her a “driving fee” out of my earnings. My first real job was then working at the library and I walked there, so I got to keep my entire pay check. But besides that, and then working as a nanny for 4 years, I wasn’t pushed towards any higher education or a more significant job. I had been told when I was about 17 to not expect my parents to send me to college. They were only going to be paying for my brother (next sibling in line) to go to school. I was never told that scholarships were a thing, or financial aid, and besides, I was so burnt out from being un-schooled at home that any idea of going back to school was a nauseating fuck no. I was expected to follow in my mother’s footsteps and have a ton of kids and just be a stay at home mom.
Part 4: Homeschooling
Question 1: Why and when did your parents originally decide to homeschool? Did their reasons for homeschooling change over time?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I don’t know when my parents decided to homeschool. I do know that it was several years before I came into the picture, and the homeschooling movement was starting to get really big then. I honestly am not sure of my parents’ reasons for homeschooling. I never really talked with my mom about why they decided to homeschool us, I just knew that’s what we did. I do know they have changed their views somewhat, because several of my siblings are in public school, and a church school now this year. My mom’s view changed about homeschooling because she simply couldn’t control those kids anymore, and they needed to be in school.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I still don’t know why my parents decided to homeschool. I do believe they made the decision to home school when I was a toddler. I never went to any outside preschool. And by the time I was 6 years old, my mother was teaching me at home…”teaching” meaning she had taught me to read and that was about it at that point. My youngest siblings experienced an entirely different version of our parents by the time they were in middle school. Those siblings went to public school and a church school. So I would say that yes, their reasons for homeschooling did change over time. but I don’t know for sure what changed.
Question 2: Briefly describe your experience being homeschooled, including the amount of interaction you had with other homeschoolers or non-homeschoolers (socialization) and what sorts of textbooks or homeschool program your family used (academics).
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I was homeschooled from the very start, never went to public or preschool, or kindergarten or anything like that. We used to school year around, and would actually do school during vacations as well. Then my mom got cancer, and she couldn’t keep up anymore with year round school, and we had a more traditional school schedule. We were a part of several different co-ops throughout the years, but besides the once a week, or once every other week, we really didn’t have much interaction with other homeschoolers or kids for that matter. Because of being a big family, not all that many people were comfortable inviting us over to get together.
My mom had us on several different “curriculums”, but mostly she picked various subjects from things she felt like would work best for each of us. I did some saxon math when I first started doing real school, but soon failed and gave up on it. My mom then put all of us on Singapore math, and I loved that, but that only went to 8th grade. We did the Robinson Curriculum, which involved a LOT of reading and writing a lot of vocabulary words. Basically, our schooling could be described as very independent and I didn’t have a whole lot of direction with my schooling because my mom was always busy with the youngest in school at that point. I do regret that now, and know that my husband and I will most definitely be more on top of our children’s schooling, whether we would put them in school, or try homeschooling them.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: *le sigh* I was homeschooled from pre-k to 12th grade. And yes, my siblings and I once did school all year round with minimal breaks. My mother went through multiple different types of curriculum, which ended up looking like a new type of learning every single grade. I didn’t really know other homeschoolers until I was older, and going to a homeschool “school” for my high school years and extracurricular classes. We knew homeschoolers growing up, but very infrequently hung out with other families. I remember my mother mentioning a lot that we couldn’t go out during school hours because someone would call CPS (child protective services) on us and we would be forced into public school. Because of this fear-mongering, my siblings and I never went outside during school hours.
Question 3: What do you see as the pros and cons of having been homeschooled? Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you well socially? Academically?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: The biggest pro a homeschooled kid will probably say is the ability to take a break in the middle of the school year, and not miss anything in school. I was pretty shy and am still quite an introvert, so it didn’t bother me that I had school at home, and could comfortably set up my “desk” on my bed, and bask in warm sunlight as I read through my history book. another big pro for me was if I was particularly interested in a subject, say, History, I had a lot of freedom to pursue that in depth however much I wanted.
The cons were that we didn’t have many friends growing up, and the friends we did have were just as weird as us, and everyone else thought we were freaks for being homeschooled. Homeschooling totally did not help me be prepared for social interaction with those my own age. I can have a very good conversation with someone 20 years, or more, older than me, but to interact with someone my own age, well that was beneath me. It has taken me at least the past 5 years to finally feel like I’m fitting in with my peers and I can keep up in conversations. Academically….no, homeschooling, or at least the way my mom homeschooled me, did not prepare me well for continuing on my education. It was kind of a little unsaid thing in my family’s house that us girls would have to pay for college on our own, if we wanted to do it, because my parents couldn’t pay for both the boys and the girls.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I do not see any pros to being homeschooled or even considering homeschooling my own children. I would have hated trying to go to public school and deal with all of the abuse at home and trying to be my own person while I was growing up. Yes, I did get to basically learn whatever I wanted to that I had access to, but I wasn’t taught. Self-directed learning was barely enough. I only had access to very isolated and intentionally curated information, so I wasn’t even learning about the real truths of the world I lived in.
My understanding of history was extremely white-washed and colonized. So was my understanding of all the rest of my world. I had no fucking clue how to fit into my peers. I didn’t know I was autistic, traumatized, still indoctrinated by the abusive system I grew up under. It took me until shortly before my 30th birthday to actually understand this crucial part of myself. Being homeschooled fucked me over so badly, I have always felt ill equipped to hold any other job than what I had been taught to do…that is be a nanny, or manual labor. I have significant life experience, but academically speaking, I’m nervous about starting college in a few months because I’m not sure how triggering it’ll be to be in an academic setting again.
Question 4: Do you perceive of your academic or social abilities differently today than you did when you were being homeschooled?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My social abilities are definitely a lot more developed and I actually have social skills! I have a good number of diverse friends who I don’t all agree with, but I love being friends with because of that. Being an introvert makes interacting with society a bit of a challenge for me at times, but I actually have a lot of fun in social settings once I get settle into a groove.
Academically, I actually was thinking about taking some college classes for fun. which, is a huge step for me, considering how my first words upon finishing highschool was never again would I do school.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: oh baby Maeve, see “introvert” and “social abilities” were just your really good neurodivergent masking skills. The social “skills” I have today are there because I learned how to mask and catch up on the things I hadn’t been taught. I have a lot more experience now, but that experience has been hard won, and I’ve lost a lot because of what I’ve been through already as an adult. I guess, long story short, any skills I have now have absolutely nothing to do with having been homeschooled or my parents.
Question 5: Do you plan to homeschool/are you homeschooling your children? Why or why not? If you do plan to homeschool, in what ways will you/do you do it differently from your parents?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My husband and I have had several conversations about this topic. We have finally reached a conclusion that each child will determine what we do with them in regards to school. I really, really want to be able to work one on one with my children, should we decide to homeschool any of them. and if we do do that, I am definitely not going to just let them slide under the radar because I have too many other things to do. We have no problem with sticking any of our kids into public school, or private school, either.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: absolutely not. I am not qualified to teach my children everything I believe they need to learn through school. They deserve an education and both of my children are in public school right. When my oldest went into kindergarten, I had many panic attacks because I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know how to interact with the teachers, or the school in general. Now, as my oldest is in 3rd grade, and my youngest is in kindergarten, I know what I’m doing. And I am comfortable calling out my kids’ teachers when something isn’t working for them. My nesting partner and I have talked about how we’ll help our kids have options when they’re done with primary school. We want to encourage them towards trade school if that’s something they’re interested in, or college if that is the direction they want to go.
Part 5: Purity
Question 1: What were you taught about physical purity, emotional purity, and courtship and dating? How was sex education handled?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I was taught that simply having a one on one conversation with a guy was damaging to my emotional purity. I never had “purity” training from my parents. bits and pieces of what they believed that i should do would come out if they saw me doing something they thought would damage my purity….such as, having friendships with guys, hanging out, staying up late at events having deep conversations with said guys. There was always this assumption that my dad would give me a purity ring, which he did on my 13th birthday, and that was supposed to symbolize that he had my heart until I got married. That was a fantasy though. He never had my heart, and I sincerely doubt he had MY best interests in mind. I always assumed though that a guy would come ask my dad for me, and my dad would say yes, and we would have a courtship like Josh Harris described in his books, or like in that book, Her Hand In Marriage by Douglas Wilson. In other words, my dad had ultimate control over whatever relationship I was supposed to have, and that was that.
Sex education was non-existent. I don’t remember ever being taught about sex. I figured it out on my own through peeking at books in the library, or doing a ton of research online when I met my now husband and we went through our pre-marriage relationship.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: My parents’ indoctrination of me was subtle and not in my face. I was subtly given a few courtship/emotional purity type books first, and once I got hooked, my parents got me more. My dad always told me when I was growing up that he wouldn’t let me get married until I was 30. I am almost 32, and have been married for [almost] 12 years…kinda failed on that one, oops.
I was taught that my role would be the submissive wife, bearing as many children as my spouse wanted, always in the background, and that I would be handed from my dad to my husband, merely transferred as their property. I was never taught any sex education. My mother did buy some Christian sex ed books, but then never gave them to any of us, and hid them in her closet. When I worked at the library as a teenager, I would sneak looks in the sexual education books, and that was my education on that topic. The rest of my sexuality was so twisted and traumatized, it took until I was 26 to really understand why my sexuality really is.
Question 2: Did you participate in a parent-guided courtship? If so, what was your experience? If not, why not?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Nope, that didn’t end up happening. I met my husband in October of 2008, and about 6 months later knew i really liked him, and he liked me. His parents decided they didn’t like how close our friendship was getting, so they decided to cut all communication back. (just a side note: my husband grew up in Joshua Harris’ church so he was very familiar with those infamous no-dating but courtship instead books) We, not knowing what else to do, agreed with his parents and tried to endure 6 grueling months of no communication while we both knew we wanted to pursue a relationship and get married. my dad’s response to my heartache of not being able to talk with my best friend was that if my heart was hurting, then I did something wrong. He did not support me at all through my relationship with my husband. Instead he kept accusing me of being lustful, idolatrous, disrespectful of his authority, and would twist whatever I said I felt like God was telling me or what I believed I felt. Over the course of two years since meeting this amazing guy, all of the deep-seated issues in my relationship with my dad were brought to light, and my trust in my dad completely deteriorated and even to this day I don’t trust him at all. My husband and I kept asking for help and guidance in our relationship, but the parents, especially my dad, were more determined to gain complete control over the relationship and crush it instead of helping us. We were not being heard and even after bringing in pastors to help mediate, things still didn’t get worked out. My dad finally kicked me out of the house because I wouldn’t help mom out around the house, and help cook more meals, or help clean. Gosh, I was working 9.5 hour days at my job, and was barely home. Although, the good thing about getting kicked out was the pastors and my husband’s parents were suddenly in complete support of us. Three months after that, we got married with my husband’s parents’ support and all of the pastors involved and my mom cheering us on.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I don’t have a whole lot to add to this. there are 4 chapters in my book dedicated to my nesting partner’s and my story. It’s a whole lot messier and doesn’t end quite so well as I made it sound above. My mother was not cheering us on. She backed up my dad’s fucked up interfering, and helped the pastors lash out at us. Because of how the church, the pastors, and our parents treated us, I left Christianity within 3 years of getting married.
Question 3: How do you feel about purity and courtship teachings today? Have you rejected some parts of it and kept other parts of it? How do you plan to handle these issues with your own children?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I think the purity and courtship teachings today are full of crap and completely for the parents’ benefit and not for the young adults trying to work their way towards marriage. Sure, there are some good principles in some of the courtship teachings, but unless the kids have a good relationship with their parents, and the parents are willing to get down to their children’s level and listen to them, it’s a recipe for disaster. Because of how we were treated through our relationship, my husband and I are very cynical towards courtship, especially since those darn books Josh wrote have been taken as the gospel truth. Our goal with our children is to take each situation individually and to remind ourselves of how we were treated in our relationship and not repeat any of that. We want to listen to our children and not put boundaries that don’t fit on them.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: oh my god, fuck purity culture and courtship. As a non-binary, queer, autistic person, purity still fucks with me to this day. It’s in the way my brain tries to make sense of connections, and how I approach my body. It still comes up in how I interact with cisgendered heteronormative AMAB people. I don’t believe there are any good qualities in any parts of purity culture or courtship ideologies. When our children are old enough to start expressing attraction or interest in someone else, we both intend to be supportive and encouraging.
Question 4: Do you feel that the purity and courtship teachings you were raised with still have lasting impact on your life today? If so, how?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Yes, I feel like I was brainwashed into thinking that the parents have total control, that that was completely biblical, and that I had no say, but should quietly and humbling allow them to rule me. Oh, and that I had to be emotionally pure. What the heck does that even mean? You can’t give away pieces of your heart! I am very thankful I did not stick to the “guidelines” when it came to having friendships with guys. Those friendships really helped me know how to relate to a guy, and how to be good friends, nothing more, with a guy. That has been greatly beneficial to my relationship with my husband. I don’t regret those friendships, and I wish I could help some of my single friends understand that it’s not going to damage their purity to be kind to and be friends with guys. I think requiring a level of “purity” that doesn’t even allow a couple to hold hands is very damaging to building a relationship, especially one heading for marriage. The term “emotional purity” is a very empty phrase and one that is used to give the parents ultimate control and spook their kids into listening to them. I am still find myself falling back into a I have to guard my heart phase, especially when my husband and I hang out with another couple. I have to constantly remind myself, even today, that it’s okay to be friends with other guys. Seriously.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: oh for fuck’s sake. I promised myself I wouldn’t edit or change my answers from 11 years ago, but ugh.
I still feel the toxic influences of purity culture on my understanding of sex, gender, and how I view my body. 6 years ago, I had memories of sexual abuse come back, sexual abuse done by my dad from when I was 1 1/2 to when I was about 7 years old. So throw the dysphoria and trauma from sexual abuse into the mix of the trauma done by purity culture, and it was a cluster fuck trying to pull everything apart to understand it. I’ve had to learn how to touch myself and how to touch other (with consent of course). I’ve had to learn what consent is in a sexual situation, and consent in general. I’ve learned to accept and appreciate platonic touch and how comforting that is. In a lot of ways, I have felt that the past decade has been full of having to learn everything for the first time.
Part 6: Questioning
Question 1: How were you first exposed to “mainstream” American culture? What were your first impressions?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My family was never really completely removed from “mainstream” American culture. Because of how many siblings I have, we didn’t really get to do a lot of things because of how expensive it was. I do remember, however, when I first started listening to the radio. Up till then, we weren’t allowed to do so, and were barely allowed to listen to contemporary Christian artists, such as Steven Curtis Chapman. We only listened when my dad wasn’t around. My first impressions were that I really enjoyed listening to something different, I felt slightly rebellious, and wow, I really liked it! from there, it all sped up really fast, especially when my husband first introduced me to some pretty, at the time, wild bands. Music and movies were the first steps to being exposed to mainstream American culture. and I liked it.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: omg honey, you had no idea what “mainstream” American culture was! I wasn’t exposed to mainstream American culture until early 20s, a few years into being married. I would even say that I was raised not only in patriarchal, evangelical Christian culture, but also an offshoot of white supremacy culture too. I then spent the next 7ish years breaking all of that down to understand and then separate myself completely from those ideologies. My honest first impression of “mainstream” American culture was “this is so scary and I don’t know anything.”
Question 2: What first made you question the beliefs you were raised with? Was this initial questioning a frightening or liberating experience?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I think I always had a bit of a check in the back of my mind when my dad would preach at us kids, or when a certain verse was applied a certain way. I didn’t really pay attention to it until my dad started accusing me of being lustful and idolatrous throughout my relationship with my husband before we got married. I really dove into scriptures in an effort to understand how he was coming to that conclusion. What I found really made me start seriously questioning my dad’s intent and everything he had ever taught us or said was the way to believe things. What started causing me to drastically question my upbringing was when I became aware that something was terribly wrong with my family, and we weren’t normal.
The first initial questioning was extremely scary to me. especially when I kept getting kickback that made me feel like I was going insane to even doubt one little thing. My dad can twist words like you wouldn’t believe, and would take anything I said and twist it back to me in such a way that I’d walk away believing what he had just told me, only later to feel even more confused when my own thoughts and questions would come back. As I became stronger in standing up to my dad and standing firm in what I believed in and why, it started becoming very liberating. and I am still working through that process.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: let’s see, I wrote this fall of 2012, which meant in less than 6 months I would be desperately looking for a therapist and beginning to have a full mental breakdown. So keeping that in mind, the thing that made me start questioning my beliefs was my parents and the pastors at CLC’s handling of my nesting partner’s and my relationship. I watched as the church, someone that had always been consistent in my life, easily and seemingly without care, stabbed me in the back over and over. Questioning my faith and the belief system I had been a part of since birth was extremely frightening and destabilizing. I felt like I was losing my sanity and it didn’t help that everyone around me thought I was being sinful and doubting and not trusting god. I kept my questioning to myself, my nesting partner couldn’t handle hearing anything, and by the time I got in front of my first therapist, I was on a hair triggering of completely losing it. Ultimately, my deconstruction lasted about 3 years, and then the rebuilding process took about 6 years, and I felt free and relieved when I finally said the words “I’m not a Christian anymore.”
Question 3: What did you struggle with most when you were in the midst of questioning and/or leaving Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology? What was the hardest part?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: As I am still in the process of figure things out, I have found that I struggled with trying to separate my dad’s actions from what is really true the most. I am trying to figure out why i believe what I believe, and that’s not easy at all. I think the hardest thing have been as I have started really questioning and digging, I have gotten a lot of pushback from people who are very comfortable in their life, and don’t want to have to think about what I’m thinking about and pondering. The more willing I am to shake the foundations I stand upon, the more people make it difficult to be open with my thoughts.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: see, I was aaaallllllmmmooossttt there. And yes, trying to separate my dad’s toxicity and his abuse from my beliefs was excruciatingly tedious and almost impossible to do. I kept my deconstruction process between me and my therapist only, and decided the only way I was going to work through things was if I had no outside influence. The hardest part though was trying to find all of the insidious ways CP/Q ideology was ingrained into the core of my being. It took years of digging to find everything. I’m sure there are pieces left now, but it’s been a while since something came up.
Question 4: Among those you grew up around who were also raised with Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology, what proportion has remained in the movement and what proportion has left?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I’d say almost everyone I can think of that I knew were part of the CP/Q line of thinking have left the movement. I know a few people who are still very staunch patriarchs, but I do not see those people very often at all.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I’m not sure what I was talking about above. Of the people I knew who I grew up with, I’d say *maybe* 50% have left CP/Q, and the other 50% are still in it, following in their parents’ footsteps, or some offshoot variation of those ideologies. And I have contact with none of them, which is just fine with me.
Part 7: Relating to Family
Question 1: How did your parents and siblings respond to you questioning/rejecting their beliefs? How did those you grew up with respond?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My mom and I are actually kind of neck and neck with the questioning/figuring things out. I’ve noticed that once I blog or post about something, she will usually follow up with me the next time we talk, agreeing with me, and saying she’s been working through that as well. I have been very cautious about things. My siblings don’t understand for the most part, simply because they aren’t old enough and haven’t had big things shake their perspective up. I have had a lot of “sharing concerns” from various people who don’t understand what I’m trying to figure out either. It’s been pretty discouraging, but I am grateful for those strong few that I have around me who are very willing to be my sounding boards and show compassion and grace towards me, instead of assuming and judging me.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Okay, I legit have no idea what I’m talking about with my mother above. I am digging in my brain to remember any conversations I had with my mom where she was also questioning, and I’ve got nothing. My mother is still a Christian and still holding up a lot of those old ideologies. I have no idea where my dad is, but when I came out as no longer believing, my mother tried her damndest to pull me back to god. I lost several friends because of my “loss of belief” and interestingly enough, a few of those friends came back a few years later saying they had deconstructed now and they’re sorry for turning me away. Out of my 8 siblings, only 3 are still “believers.” The rest of us are agnostic or atheist, or Pagan/Witchy.
Question 2: What is your relationship with your parents and siblings like today? What is your relationship with those you grew up with who remained in the movement like?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My relationship with my mom is constantly improving, I think, and my relationship with most of my siblings is pretty chill. I have separated myself from most of my family, and especially my dad, because I can’t handle the stress of being about him. I do keep up with my oldest siblings, especially with me being the oldest, I still do feel a certain sense of responsibility for them.
The ones who have left the movement already are in totally agreement with me, and it’s cool to catch up and talk with them about what I’m learning and figuring out. The ones who are still in the movement aren’t really around anymore. They have either all gotten married, and are crazy busy with kids, or have just fallen off the face of the earth. I think if I were to have a conversation with the few I can think of, i don’t think the conversation would go very well.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: wtf, my mother’s and my relationship never got past pleasantries as almost peers in the year and a half after I got married before I lost my grip on my sanity. I didn’t talk with any of my siblings for a few years after moving out to Colorado in 2015. It was important that I find my identity outside of being their older sister/mom surrogate. I’m okay with the relationships I have rebuilt with some of my siblings, but if I’m going to be honest about that, things are not where I wish they were, but I think that’s okay.
I have zero contact with those I grew up with and who are still in the movement and I intend to keep it that way.
Question 3: For those who are no longer Christian, are you “out” to your parents or siblings? If so, how did you do it and how did they respond?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: n/a
Maeve’s 2023 answer: uhm yeah so, definitely out to my parents and siblings. When I told my siblings I wasn’t a christian anymore, I can’t really remember their responses. I think they were mostly positive? I know my mother thought this was just a “phase” and I would come back to god in the end cuz that was the right thing to do. She never believed me that this was a permanent decision on my part.
Question 4: Have any of your siblings (or perhaps even parents) left Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy ideology? How do you approach the relationships with siblings who have not?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: My mom is definitely in major disagreement with a lot of CP/Q ideology. I’m not sure where my dad is, since I don’t talk with him at all. My siblings are still too young to really know and understand what I’m working through, and I think my two oldest siblings are slowly getting some things figured out, or are realizing there are things they have to work through. I really don’t talk about where I’m at with things among my siblings.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I don’t know where my parents about with the CP/Q ideology. I have no contact with the singular sibling still practicing those ideologies, and have no contact with the other sibling still a christian. I will continue the no contact boundary for as long as is needed. Those siblings are not only toxic but they’ve also become like our parents and are abusive.
Part 8: Adjusting
Question 1: Do you still feel as though you are “different” or that your past experiences emotionally isolate you from society?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I definitely do feel a bit of a difference, but not so much anymore. I have definitely been through a lot of emotionally difficult situations, and I do find it difficult to be around people who don’t know that when I having a hard time with something.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Yes, I am different because I am not neurotypical, I am autistic, and have a long and intense history of trauma from abuse in my past. I know better coping skills and ways to manage triggers when trauma comes up now. I am also to integrate comfortably into the society I interact with now, but definitely prefer small groups of people or one on one instead of large groups or crowds. I know who I am, and what I need for accessibility in a situation when I’m out in public. I can fight for myself and stand up for myself now too which helps.
Question 2: Since most of the world doesn’t understand Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy culture, do you feel this creates barriers in friendships or in romantic relationships? Do people have a hard time understanding you and your past?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Oh yes, most definitely. My husband and I are still working through barriers that I have inadvertently raised because of my dad and my past. And yes, people totally have a hard time understanding me, my past, and why I would struggle with things. I’ve run into so many people more concerned about me honoring my parents in how I write instead of the broken heart that’s behind the words. It’s irritating, frustrating, and downright uncaring when folks try to tell me what I’m doing wrong instead of caring for me.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Yes, people in the past have had a hard time understanding me, and I have experienced some really uncomfortable and painful relationship blow ups. However, there are several big pieces at play here. 1, I was around the wrong kind of people for me. I was burned over and over by people who either were not good people, or were not people I should have been friends with. We were incompatible. 2, I had no idea how to process the trauma I had experienced, and that bled on to a lot of people around me. I know now how to handle my past, and my identity is not my past. It is a part of me yes, but it is the sole of who I am.
I find being autistic and a forthright person causes more issues in romantic relationships than anything else. I am honest and upright with who I am and what I want/am looking for, and yet it seems that most people don’t actually believe me and then try to put meaning to my words instead of taking me at my word.
Question 3: What do you think is the biggest way being raised in a family influenced by Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideas has influenced who you are today?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: It has definitely given me compassion for those who are still in it, or have grown up in that environment. It has caused me to become very careful about voicing what I believe until I know I can firmly back up what I believe. I am tired of being manipulated, and no more will I give into someone trying to make me believe something just because they claim it’s the right way.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: I’m not actually sure how to respond to this now. I don’t believe I’ll ever get rid of the scars from my past. They will always be with me and I will never regain the years lost to that trauma. But I am doing what I can to live fully now and experience things I have always wanted to and was never brave enough to explore. I think possibly something that has helped me with regards to my past is how clearly and easily I can recognize another cult and toxic belief system now. Maybe the small details are different, but all of the cults are the same – based in control, hierarchal leaders manipulating and gaslighting their followers.
Question 4: How did you perceive your childhood at the time compared to how do you see it now?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I thought a lot of things that were wrong in my family was my fault, and that I made things worse. I thought that I was an ugly girl, who was worth absolutely nothing. I did not feel all that loved, and struggled with feeling accepted. I always felt like there was something really wrong in my family, but I didn’t find out till much later in my mid teenager years. I can now see I was a beautiful young girl, and was worth more than I knew. The problems in my family had nothing to do with me, no matter whether I felt like it was my fault or not.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: My childhood was a blur, and while yes I did think I was the reason my family was fucked up. But now looking back, I feel so sad for my younger selves. I know what we lost and what was stolen from us. I know that my dad’s ripped so many things from me, namely my innocence and childhood. I have been extremely intentional since the day my oldest was born to give him a whole and healthy childhood. And in a way, giving that to him has helped me reclaim my own childhood.
Question 5: Do you sometimes wish to go “back”?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: I do something wish I could go back…but that’s before I remember how utterly miserable I was, and lost I felt. Over the past year of my deconstruction process, I have felt happier, and so much more at peace than I ever remember feeling. Breaking free and claiming my faith as my own has been a complete breath of fresh air.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: fuck no. Never. I wish I had made some different decisions and choices, but I am willing to accept what I did when I did it because it brought me to where I am today.
Part 9: Helping Others
Question 1: What advice do you have for other young adults currently questioning or leaving Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Have patience with yourself and with others who don’t understand you. Stay strong and do not expect to have everything figured out any time soon. It will definitely take time, and don’t try to rush decisions. Surround yourself with people who have already made the big leap out, and stay away from people who are going to grasp at your doubts and twist them for their advantage.
Know it is truly okay to ask questions.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Reach out to the deconstruction groups on facebook, follow people who grew up in that environment on tiktok and instagram. There are so many resources now, resources that I didn’t have 11 years ago. Be aware that it’s going to be scary and really uncomfortable if this is the first time you’re questioning anything. There are so many of us who got out and who are thriving and okay now, reach out to us!
Question 2: What was most helpful to you when you were questioning and/or leaving the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Having friends who were willing to sit down and listen to me without questioning my sanity or judging me. I have a few friends who are a few steps ahead of me and it’s greatly helped me being able to ask them how they dealt with something.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: THERAPY. Seriously, go find a “secular” therapist, and get ready to do some hard shit. Having a community of people also questioning is helpful, but I have never fit in any community like that.
Question 3: What helps you the most today?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Remembering that it’s okay to not have everything figured out, and that I probably won’t get everything figured out by the time I die.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Trusting myself, being honest and open with myself and those around me, and protecting my boundaries and my limits.
Question 4: What suggestions do you have for those who might to help friends or relatives who grew up/are growing up in families influenced by the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?
Chryssie/Maeve’s 2012 answer: Be patient and quiet when a family member or friend is trying to get out of the CP/Q movement. Be willing to ask questions without assuming and carefully listen to the answers. It’s hard to shake off the reigns that “authority” has in CP/Q families. It is also really confusing to have a lot of different people giving their thoughts and advice on what you should do. Give advice when asked and do not try to sway that friend or family member to agree with you. That will only push them away.
Maeve’s 2023 answer: Walk away. It’s not worth your time to try to change their minds nor is it worth feeling their judgement on who you are.
Okay, so now that I’ve gone through all of those questions and answers, I am still cringing at what I wrote 11 years ago. I know that I was hanging on by a teeny tiny thread and was still trying to appease everyone around me while I fell apart inside. I was trying to hide the fact that my spouse had suddenly abandoned me after getting married and making it through the hellscape of our relationship pre-marriage. He didn’t want to acknowledge what we had just come through, and left me in the dust. I was trying to hold my faith together and was beginning to fail at that. I think I wanted to believe that my mother and I could have a relationship but the truth of the matter was that she had held me captive for too long. I couldn’t fill the role she wanted me in, and I wasn’t able to trust her. As long as I toed the line and did what she wanted me to, I was “safe.”
I may go back in and re-process some of these questions and answers another time. But for now, here’s where I am today. My book comes out in just less than a month, and that will have so many more details in it about my deconstruction process and how I rebuilt myself.
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