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Monday, September 27, 2010

Letter to the Botkin sisters

[Edit Oct. 2:] Well, it appears this post may be staying up a bit longer after all. No response yet, and indeed I almost hope they don't write back, because I've had a bit too much experience already with their very convincing rhetoric. 

 Here is an email I wrote tonight, to the Botkin sisters. I do not expect a reply: I hope merely that they will be given doubt about the pain they inflict. 
Feel free to copy, link, and so on. 
To the Botkin Sisters;
I wrote to you several years ago, about your film Return of the Daughters. I received no response: now I write again, in hopes of giving you pause to consider the effects of your ministry. It is not my intent to hurt or discourage you. However, I write at least in part out of concern for others who may be struggling with similar issues. I do not want you to continue hurting young women.
For the years between age 12 and 16, I read several books subscribing to ideals similar to yours. When I was 16, I watched RotD as above mentioned. It is fair to say it changed my life. I was in turmoil for several weeks, and came very near abandoning what I then considered must be a 'selfish personal interest' (film-making: I was about to embark on a 6-month historical film project with a crew of friends).   
What I have now come to term patriocentricity (your views, and those of many others) then had very little effect on me til this summer (before I turned 18). I struggled with knowing I could never achieve the standard of perfection espoused in your works. Patriocentricity and related movements are in part responsible for the fact that I came very near abandoning Christianity, for which I am inexpressibly regretful. 
This summer I reexamined the issue at length, and finally came to the decision that I had no call to follow your views. I planned to go to college (majoring in computer science).  
Also, I forgave you and all related 'homeschooling authorities'. I had already dwelt enough on what I perceive the wrongs done by your views, and forgave you and felt no bitterness, at least in part because those views no longer affected me. 
How can I express the freedom I felt. Not just that which came from forgiveness, but also the freedom from legalism, the freedom to view God as loving, first and foremost. I would do anything to be back there again. 
This lasted for about a week. My journey back from freedom has been painful. Now, a month later, I am struggling with self-hatred, self-injury, and depression. You will say that these are the results of realization of sin in my own life: I have no argument to give.
My plans to go to college have also come into serious doubt. I struggle with doubt, because I know almost for a certainty that I will regret whichever choice I make, whether to go to college or not. 

My family and a few friends (all devoted Christians) are convinced that I have fallen afoul of a cult and am laboring under spiritual oppression. In my more lucid moments, sadly far between now, I agree with them. They think that there is no sin in gaining an education by means of attending college, nor in working outside the home. My parents, in particular, are angered because they do not see in your work much, if any, suggestion of how a young woman is to provide income for her family if she is not able to work for her father. Some Christians do live below the poverty line. 
The biggest blow struck against patriocentricity (and you may laugh in private at the name its victims have given this movement), came when it was suggested to me that I look for FRUIT. I did so: in the lives of many of those espousing patriocentricity, I see no love, no compassion for those not 'in God's plan', and none of the forbearance with other believers which we are so clearly called to in the New Testament. 
On the other hand, those people who have rejected patriocentricity, but still embrace Christianity, are some of the most polite, welcoming, and in fact loving people I have come across. They love God deeply. They know that they are helpless without His grace. They are, in fact, desperate for God.  

Reading over this, I almost cannot see why I would reject the freedom and joy that God gave me, in order to follow the laws: Col. 2: 20:
20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Those 'basic principles' are not the principles of the unbelievers, but of those following 'The Law'. The Law which we are told is not removed, but is also no longer in judgement over us. 
No, indeed I cannot see why I would leave God's freedom. If writing this has brought me any closer to no longer being in bondage to this horror, I thank you.  (And lest you think I am being melodramatic by my use of the word horror, let me explain. Both my father and my best friend think that if I embrace patriocentricity, by which I mean the entire paradigm of your views, I will after a time grow to hate it and leave Christianity as well. I am afraid to my soul's depth of leaving Jesus. So, then, horror.)

My impression has been that you characterize all opposition to your views as 'angry or tearful'.  You may feel free to call me both. 'In rebellion' is another term with which I am familiar. (In other words, please don't think that I am unaware of your opinion of me.) 
You may not, however, state that I am merely a rebellious teenager who is displeased with her parents and enjoys feeling 'oppressed'. My parents are in no way to blame for this. 

In conclusion:
-You may congratulate yourselves (or thank God) for being part of a worldview which has so shaped my life that I am unable to pull myself away from it, and which I also find almost impossible to separate from the Bible.
-You may also take credit for being the single most disturbing influence in my life for the past several years. Or, you may say that I am blaming my sin on you. Fair enough: but consider that no other view, when convicting me of sin, has brought me to this terror. 
-If this has taught me one thing, it is that I never want my children to experience this. I will not teach your views to my children until they are old enough to distinguish the commandments of men from the commandments (two of them, love God and love your neighbor) of God. 
-Please take pause and consider how many other women you have discounted, as objecting to your views because of their sin. 

I do not doubt that some of your mission is, in fact, serving to honor God. If I have hindered anything which God would have you accomplish, I humbly apologize.  Likewise if I have misrepresented your views, I regret the mistake. However I sincerely believe I have correctly interpreted and taken to its logical conclusion, the teachings in your work. 


Katie said...

Bethany, I e-mailed you a while ago after finding your blog through a comment you left on a blog questioning Josh Harris's "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." I can relate to how hard it is to separate oneself from the demands of the patriocentric movement, probably because it is one cliff off of which one might fall from the truth, and the truth so often seems to be a razors edge. I've prayed that God will help you find your joy in him and your calling in practical, small acts of obedience to his Word and nothing and no one else.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." -Romans 8:18

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -I Corinthians 10:13

Rochelle Blue said...

I may not be Christian or know these Botkin Sisters, Bethie, but I know an extraordinary letter when I see it.

I hope that they read this. I really hope they do.

*hugs you tight*
I'm sorry, sweetie, you should have never gone through so much pain.

and just remember, you can always come talk to me. I may not understand a lot of it, but I am here for you.

love roch

Elizabeth said...

This letter was very well written, and somewhat merciful. I am a Christian homeschooled highschool senior, and until finding your blog a while ago was ignorant about exactly how common patriocentricity was today. I hope that God returns to you the peace that you deserve and briefly had...that mindset should not have such power over your life. I understand the horror that comes with the thought of losing your faith. Mine was in tatters a couple years back because of my hatred of the church I once attended and everything it stood for in my life; hypocrisy, deceit, manipulation, my earthly father… I almost lost my life because of my self-hatred. God spared me, thankfully, and I've been slowly growing toward Him again. Anyway, thank you for sharing your struggles with this, and I truly wish you the best,