Monday, June 30, 2014

A Theological Review of First Time Obedience in the Christian Homeschooling and Quiverfull Movement

From the original March 2011 posting:

I've spent a great deal of time on this blog developing ideas about the problems with First Time Obedience (FTO), but I'd like to quickly revisit the concept before moving on to some new alternatives for parents, in light of how the topic relates to the Pearl Method of Child Training through aggressive spanking.

When Lydia Shatz died last year after abuse with the Pearl-recommended Teflon reinforced plumbing supply hose, it was noted by some who knew the family that the Shatz family also ascribed to a theological idea that it was possible for a Christian to completely attain a sinless life. Those who follow the idea of FTO often rely upon techniques like the Pearl or the Ezzo Methods to accomplish those ends, what some describe as an attempt at training human nature and the resultant proclivity to sin out of children in order to obtain perfection.

I will refer to one of FTO's most zealous advocates within Quiverfull/Patriarchy to roughly define the expectation and practice, quoting Voddie Baucham. In context, Baucham describes “Discipline and Training Phase" in his book as well as in audio sermons as directed toward these general and benign sounding objectives for children:  
  • Do What They Are Told  
  • Do It When They Are Told
  • Do It With a Respectful Attitude.   

As he expounds on his concept (in a very pleasant tone that does not sound overtly authoritarian), he defines any "delayed obedience" in black and white terms as intolerable, an unqualified disobedience to parent and God, something he requires of a two year old.   In his book, Baucham uses an example of expectations that he has for a two year old on pages 109-10 of his book, Family Driven Faith:
What this means is the degree to which children properly respond to the authority of their parents is indicative of the degree to which they are filled with the Spirit. In other words, obedience is a spiritual issue...

You tell your two-year-old to do something in front of the pastor’s wife and she sticks out her tongue yells “no,” and takes off running in the other direction... Eventually you learn that everyone is willing to accept this behavior, or at least to make comments that suggest their acceptance.

The only problem with this scenario is that it clearly violates the principles laid out in God’s Word. It is not OK for our toddlers to be characterized by rank disobedience. Moreover, if we do not deal with this when they are toddlers, our children will grow up to be disobedient, disrespectful, obnoxious teens whom no one wants to be around. More importantly, they will have established a behavior pattern that mitigates against the Spirit-filled life. Remember, a young man or woman who is filled with the Spirit will be marked by obedience to his or her parents...
(The remainder original post continues HERE.)

  • A review of the submission required under multigenerational faithfulness as Vision Forum’s carryover from Bill Gothard’s submission teachings with various examples of this demand for unquestioned obedience without credulity. First post specifically examining “First Time Obedience” in young children.
  • A review of the principle of sacerdotalism and parental convenience (as a control issue in dysfunctional families) as rationales for requiring “First Time Obedience” and “leaps of faith” required under multigenerational faithfulness.
  • Review of the tendency to make every banal daily activity one of great eternal spiritual significance as a consequence of works-based salvation. Includes a discussion of viewing personality traits that do not fit the belief system’s paradigm as sinful as well as the building up of all gender related activities as sacramental for the impartation of inward sanctification.
  • Blog host’s personal experience with inherent personality traits treated by parents as sin, the idolatry of seeking parental approval, and the consequences of requiring unquestioned submission with the use of guilt and shame that predisposes one to easy brainwashing and compliance with thought reform. Includes a section from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion addressing the powerful effects of devaluing individuals in religious settings.
  • Discussion of the development of how perfectionism, works-based salvation and First Time Obedience squelch problem-solving skill and prevent the development of critical thinking under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness.
  • A specific review of the theological problems in Voddie Baucham’s defense of First Time Obedience as well as the refutation of the practice from Scripture. Echos concerns noted in this previous blog post concerning Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book.