If She Bleeds, She Breeds: Christian Home Schoolers Debate Merits of Child Marriage

There are reasons to believe that parents are not always capable of choosing what’s in the best interest of their child, and nowhere is that more obvious than the Christian homeschooling movement, where a debate is current broiling over the idea of a minimum age for marriage.

Evidence of a debate first surfaced with a Facebook post made by homeschooling advocate, right-wing whackjob, Christian theocrat, and leader of the Home School Defense League, Michael Farris. However, some researching shows a problem that runs deeper — straight to the rotten core of that entire subculture.

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“Seduced by the spirit of anarchy”

Michael Farris made his post over the weekend; in it, Farris expresses government has some uses, and those uses include setting a minimum age for marriage.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Farris is somehow a good guy. Farris’s organization has gone to bat for child abusers in the past. This is a case of the barrel realizing it has no bottom.

In his post, Farris observes that a there was a “recent discussion on a friend’s FB thread” that revealed “a very serious problem that I see surfacing in Christian and conservative circles.” He continued:


The issue under discussion was setting the proper minimum age for marriage. The question quickly led to the recitation of the emerging mantra “it should be no business of the government.” So long as parents’ consent, marriage should be lawful at any age—many on this thread contended.

The way we test the propriety of a proposed legal rule is to take the rule to its extreme and see how we like the results. So I asked whether a parent should be permitted to give their permission to allow a 7 year old to be married to a 30 year old pedophile. The legal issue is the same whether or not there is a “dowry” (cash payment) offered by the “bridegroom.”

Though they are exceedingly rare, there are parents who would permit this kind of outrageous transaction. Such a plan is inherently evil and should be punished.

This FB discussion highlighted a growing tendency in the Christian and conservative movement to be seduced by a spirit of anarchy.

Government is instituted by God. We are wise to be very cautious toward government. And it is true that today’s government has far exceeded the bounds of its constitutional and moral authority. But we err if we think that government has no legitimate moral authority to punish parents who do evil.

Government is not the province of angels but anarchy is a tool of the devil.

In response to Farris’s post, one person, named Paul Calvert, said:


Why didn’t God give a minimum age for marriage to His people in the Law of Moses? Many Bible teachers will say that Jewish boys became adults at age 13 (this is not in the Bible, I think it is maybe more like Jewish case-law).

Maybe God wants His people (us) to make some judgement calls. Is there a moral difference between getting married at 17 vs 16 vs 15 vs 14 . . .

Many suggest that puberty is the most reasonable minimum age. I can’t find any Biblical principle to argue for or against this.

If God (being fully righteous) chose not to give instructions about a minimum age for marriage, why would we want our government (that is often corrupt) to set a minimum age?

Currently, very young children are allowed to consent to fornication with other children who are close in age, but they are not allowed to get married. I think that sends a pretty bad message. We allow children to consent to fornication (without parental approval) which is inherently evil but we don’t allow them to consent to marriage (with parental approval) which is generally good.

When the government is this out of control, I can see how God fearing people (like Hannah on my post) might suggest that it would be better to simply revoke government jurisdiction in certain areas even though it would allow for some children to be abused.

I don’t have a great answer for this question. But I think it is valuable to consider it and discuss it.

Calvert made a similar post on his Facebook page, which he mentions above. Farris’ post was a response to his, and upon following Calvert to his Facebook page, Libby Anne, the blogger for Love, Joy, Feminism, was able to screen shot some of the responses to Calvert. In them, fellow home school supporters debated the bottom age for child marriage. Their conclusion? Puberty, which they decide is around 13 or 14 years old (precocious puberty, like evolution and dangerous pregnancies, doesn’t exist in their world):


Morris Troglin: I had several women in my lineage that were married at 14 including my grand and great grand mothers. None ever were divorced. Different time, different society.


Josiah Dickens: Legally, the government has no business in making those rules. Logically, I would say any age after puberty that the parents approve of. Obviously parent approval would become obsolete at 18.


Paul Calvert: What is the basis for deciding that 16 is righteous while 13 is positively sinful? People tell me that Jewish boys were considered adults at 13. I realize that this is not the Law that God gave to the Isrealites.


Calvin Byers: After puberty?

Paul Calvert: That sounds like a very logical break-point. But a lot of people would scream blood murder if a 40 year old man married a 12 year old girl who had just reached puberty [Thamiel R: Do you think?] 


E.M. Cavin Jr.: Puberty is the right answer. Culturally, it may not be popular at this particular point in time, but post-modern western culture has set up so many popular ideas about right and wrong that are based simply on fad thinking [Thamiel R: I’ll take postmodern culture over prepaleolithic culture].

A 40 year old man that is established and has run his course in sewing [sic] his wild oats is, in a lot of ways, a much better match for younger ladies than a young man who has yet to move past being daring and impetuous.


Paul Konrad: If she passes the flower of her youth. Scripture seems to allow any age past puberty, and at her fathers [sic] discretion. I would likely do everything within my power, limited by the state, to prevent my children marrying before they were physically, mentally mature and showing faith in Christ and spiritual growth.

The voice expressed by these men (they’re all men, notice that) is one not an alienated one in the Christian homeschooling community, either. This is a problem that runs rampant in that sick and perverse subculture.

A culture of abuse and moral decay

Josh Duggar’s abuse scandal, which broke last month, stems from this same subculture. Duggar’s treatment of his sisters and his parents’ treatment of their daughters, should surprise nobody: this is a subculture that sees women as cattle, no matter how hard Farris may try to deny it.

Earlier this year, at 20 years old, Jennyfer Austin was almost married off to a man older than she was by her Christian fundamentalist parents. While she managed to avoid it, the abuse in her story is not unusual; it came shortly after the story of Alecia Pennington, the woman who was left without any sort of identification because of her Christian fundamentalist homeschooling parents.

Last year, teenage Leelah Alcorn committed suicide by jumping in front of a tractor-trailer. Born Joshua Alcorn, Leelah identified as a woman nonetheless, but her parents — Christian fundamentalists — refused to acknowledge that. Leelah’s parents had taken her out of school and isolated her from social media and her friends. It ended with her suicide.

The stories go on. Some are more horrible than others, but they all have the same theme in common: no government regulation in the homeschooling community.

And until that happens, and the government grows a backbone and stands up to the near cousins of ISIS and the Taliban that exist right here in the United States, these stories are going to keep coming.

Featured image via Progressive Secular Humanist

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  • JustTheFactsMa'am says:

    “Legally, the government has no business in making those rules. Logically, I would say any age after puberty that the parents approve of. Obviously parent approval would become obsolete at 18.”

    Um, why 18? Isn’t that the generally accepted age of adulthood as established by the government?!? Why not 20, or 16?

    Hypocrite much?

  • Jessica A McDonald says:

    These people are batshit crazy!!!

    • Paula Prindle says:

      Old men looking for virgins.just.hoping Dad or big brother has not been there first. Disgusting perverts is another name for these old farts.

    • Brian Geary says:

      They are batshit crazy, but they aren’t better or worse than fundamentalist Jews or Moslems. Yet it’s considered politically incorrect to point out the abuses and misogyny in these religions, especially Judaism. They ban their wives and daughters from driving, force them into arranged marriages at 17, and force them to breed as many kids as they can have. Chasidim have as many as 15-20 kids, but no one laughs at them like they do at the Duggars. Chasidic communities also have major problems with incest and pedophilia but we aren’t supposed to talk about that, right? It’s time to start bringing to light the abuses in ALL religions and stop the hypocrisy.

  • Michael Doyle says:

    Are they Freaking Kidding Me?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?

  • Baby_Raptor says:

    Shorter Christians: Who cares if we abuse kids? We’ve been doing it since birth anyway, what’s one more on the pile?

  • Tiffany Miller says:

    The author is right we need either strict regulation of home school materials or to ban it

  • Denton Young says:

    We need a new law: Christianity and other cults are no longer allowed to home-school children. Only atheists and people with the brains to do it wisely are allowed to and only under the strictest possible regulations.

    • Bmac says:

      Just curious…how do you plan to regulate and enforce what people do in their homes?

      • Denton Young says:

        Simple. Anyone deemed eligible to home-school their kids has to report in weekly with a lesson plan and show the completed homework to the regulator. A certain number of failures and you lose the right to home-school.

        • Happilypureinmarriage says:

          There are a few states that require that, albeit monthly, and the studies show they’re actually worse off than kids in the states that don’t.

    • Happilypureinmarriage says:

      Home-educated children score 15-30% higher on standardized testing than public schooled kids

      Home-educated children don’t rely on government funding, which is putting an annual average of 24 million dollars back into the districts to help the kids who are there.

      Homeschooled children are a high commodity in colleges, who bend over backwards to get these kids who score higher on tests, are more self-motivated, and tend to strive for excellence above and beyond a public schooler.

      • lisa says:

        If home schooling is actually educating and not indoctrinating, yes. People like the ones discussed in this article simply see it as another means of control.

      • Bastet'sMom says:

        Public-school children performed at or above expected levels for their ages, but children who received structured home schooling scored highest. They exhibited a half-grade advantage in math and were more than two grade levels higher in reading. Children in the unstructured home-schooling group, however, performed the worst across all seven academic measures The full study, “The Impact of Schooling on Academic Achievement: Evidence From Homeschooled and Traditionally Schooled Students,” is published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. It was coauthored by Odette Gould and Reanne Meuse of Mount Allison University, and Sandra Martin-Chang of Concordia University.

  • Paul LJ Catlow says:

    Er. These are the same people who hold it as an article of faith that
    Islam as a religion is Satanic and evil because its Prophet had one
    child-wife. As they are fond of reminding us. Therefore, to Christian
    fundamentalists, the whole of that religion sanctions, by inference,
    institutionalised child-abuse because Mohammed took a young wife. (OK,
    by modern Western standards definitely wrong – but in the context of
    Arabia in 660AD, nothing unremarkable. The world has moved on in 1400

    the Holy Bible informs us that a child-bride is wholly legitimate, but
    she’ll be spared the full responsibility of managing a home, as God in His wisdom sanctions a
    system where older wives of the same husband will have the necessary
    experience to run a household, will share the chores, and educate her in
    the ways of the home. When you think through the logic, the next and
    inevitable step is polygamy. After all, the Old Testament recommends it
    and says somewhere the only proviso is that a man be affluent and
    settled enough to be able to afford more than one wife! (Have to look up the references and find chapter and verse). So maybe those
    good God-fearin’ folk in Utah and Nevada have something to teach the
    rest of Christendom after all?

    • Miriam Parker says:

      Wasn’t Mary between 12 and 14 when she was raped (non consent) by god?

      • Paul LJ Catlow says:

        good point! And lest the third Abrahamic religion starts getting smug about its track record in these matters, the Bible also tells us that in his ninth decade and well over eighty, King David of Israel was given the young girl Abishag (age not specified) whose job was to warm his bed and fulfil the usual maidenly orifices… youg girl. Eighty year old guy. So Judaism has its story too…

        • Brian Geary says:

          Don’t forget the sick story in the old testament about Isaac, a 40 year old man, who married a three year old child named Rebeccah. Isaac is considered a patriarch in the Jewish religion, but no one ever complains about his marriage to a toddler.

          • Paul LJ Catlow says:

            That’s interesting and I acknowledge this would be an embarrassment to Judaism. But the story in Genesis 24, suggests Rebecca was a little bit older than this, unless there are variants of the tale that make her far younger? I’d suspect somewhere around eleven-fourteen would be “right” for the story as we are told it in Genesis 24, though. Are there other versions that make her a lot younger?

    • Denise says:

      It is obvious the old filthy rich men wrote this not GOD. So you can stick those filthy ideas up your you -now-what.

      • Paul LJ Catlow says:

        Hmm, thought I’d answered this one and posted. No sign of my reply…. is this a case of “second time lucky”?

        But “those filthy ideas” are not filthy at all, they have been sanctified and cleansed as part of GOD’s holy revelation to the human race. Admittedly, His word as revealed via rich old alpha males with a vested interest in preserving a status quo that suits them. But still the sanctified holy word of GOD speaking through His righteous advocates on Earth….

    • Happilypureinmarriage says:

      Anyone who is a Christian doesn’t hold the OT laws. Everyone makes this stuff out to be like it’s exculively among Christians. At the time of the OT, almost every society had polygamy and child marriages. Egypt, Rome, Greece. Everyone.

      • .I am mostly bothered by the fact that modern Western many Christians go around saying things like “He married a child? Put him in prison and let him get raped and beheaded.” and things like that. .It is as if they do not know that there religion condones it and even mentions it a few times, or that there laws are against torture (like Americans 8th Amendment, for example); unless we are talking about actual abuse or laws being broken, this is about ideology, not Christian morals.

    • these idiots want to condemn Mohammed for having a child/wife, but are perfectly fine with God knocking up an underage female and pawning her off onto someone else to take care of her and raise God’s progeny. WHAT HYPOCRISY !

      • Paul LJ Catlow says:

        And I wonder, if Jesus had been born unto a single mother in the modern USA (or indeed GB) how the religious right would have viewed that, especially if Mary had made a claim for welfare or food stamps…

      • MKK says:

        at that time, Mary was put at very real risk of death by stoning for being engaged but pregnant with another man’s child. How unkind of “God” to put her through such a situation. Couldn’t “God” have found a happily married couple who cried and prayed for a child and were infertile? no, he had to put an engaged young woman with her life ahead of her at risk of death or exile etc by knocking her up. Impregnating someone without their consent is rape. Mary was INFORMED after the fact that she WOULD be bearing the child. That’s RAPE. In that time and place, unmarried pregnant women who were lucky enough to escape death at the hands of their families or communities usually had to sell themselves into slavery or prostitution to survive (their child also becoming a slave, if they didnt sell it outright for a sacrifice to one of the groups around still doing child sacrifice).

      • MKK says:

        The whole Abrahamic system is based on sick premises. Holding down your
        son and slicing off parts of his penis (judaism). Drugging and raping
        young girls even tho it may cause them to be stoned to death by their
        community for pregnancy before marriage (christianity). Selling 6 yr old girls to 50 yr old men and glorification of war and violence (islam). How many times do we have to be stupid and fall for the abrahamic insanity. I’m just waiting for Abrahamism version 4.0 to come out. When will we realize that the abrahamic semitic religions are violent, warlike, have no respect for the rights of children and women, etc. Why does one tiny spot of blood-soaked sand seem to have the corner on the market for half the planet’s brains when it comes to religion? Just because they wrote down their crazy myths doesnt mean everyone, or ANYONE, has to believe them. Hans Christian Andersen wrote down a lot of stories too (we call them “fairy tales”).

  • Anne Zadonia says:

    And of course no birth control is allowed. Fill up the coffers.

  • Keith Cumbie says:

    These repulsive bipeds should not be allowed to breed.

  • Mike Lavender says:

    Two words: Warren Jaffs

  • sukibarnstorm says:

    Even though it is fun to observe the interaction between these people, remember that this is a very small subculture and is not in any way going to influence state or federal policy. Just like it is fun to watch TLC, these people are not your average Americans.

    • JamieHaman says:

      It’s not that small, and these people’s leaders have made every effort to influence state and federal policy. Look at some of the seriously stupid things said by some politicians, and newscasters about the Josh Duggar mess. Why do you think there has been all the efforts to get public school funding for private Christian schools?

  • These men must have ridiculously tiny penises if they are so desperate to wed a barely-adult bride who has never seen or touched another penis in their lives. I guess a 12-year-old would think any sized adult penis is big…

    It’s all about the ego.

  • buzzdixon says:

    Way back in the 1960s I recall reading a satirical sci-fi story that postulated a society where everyone marries three times: First the 40 year old women marry the 15 year old boys because their sexual peaks coincide, then the 40 year old men marry the 15 year old girls because they are more patient and kind, and then when the younger partners reach their 40s those couples divorce and the older partners are free to marry anyone 65 or older while the now 40 year old younger partners marry 15 year olds.

  • Nephetta says:

    People forget that marriage is a government institution – not biblical.
    I hate that Christian’s are always looking for a reason to excuse their behavior while condemning the behavior of other religions for acting just like them, IE Islam..

  • Robyn Ryan says:

    This is part of the euro-Christian dogma that people are property. Especially women and children.

  • warriorgoddess says:

    And here we see the last of the firm walls between their version of christianity and everything they say they hate about Islam falling down. What leg do you have to base your hatred on now? Extremists of any religion= different sides of the same bad coin.

  • Ani B. says:

    “Many suggest that puberty is the most reasonable minimum age. I can’t find any Biblical principle to argue for or against this.”

    Nothing like setting up justification for pedophilia to be accepted as normal in future under the guise of ‘marriage’. Hmm, in the bible, *God* also green-lighted polygamy and incest (Genesis 4; Gen 20:12; Gen 19; Exodus 6:20; etc.) as well as a whole host of other things that no civilized society would (or should) condone today.

  • Robert Atallo says:

    Jesus was not married. Therefore all marriage is heresy. Or can we move on please?

  • Happilypureinmarriage says:

    All the media talks like this only happens among homeschoolers… which is totally ludicrous. This happens all over the place and in all demographics. It’s just that the media doesn’t like that we’re not currently under government mandate. Obviously, society doesn’t have an issue with mormonism, as it’s plastered all over, and yet their society is the worst at marrying children off before they’re ready. But, the government can’t mandate these things. Some girls are ready at 14, they just are. Most, no, but some. And talk about far apart distances in marriage… have you read the tabloids? Hollywood is way worse at that then homeschoolers. And some far apart marriage also are wonderful. I have a good friend who was married at 19 to a 27 year-old and has a wonderful marriage. And sometimes, a gap as great as 20 or 30 years is present in wonderful marriages. As soon as the governments says what is too young or what is too far apart, their power will grow exponentially. It won’t be long after that before people who’ve committed certian crimes are not allowed to be married, and it won’t be long in this country before being a Christian will be considered a crime. The implications of more government control are always teh government being able to take things waaaayyyy too far.

  • lisa says:

    These people have more in common with the mindset of ISIL than they care to admit.

  • Jordan Cafolla says:

    The government decided that 18 was the legal age.

  • Jordan Cafolla says:

    Shoot them in the head. Why are the victims always the ones expected to show mercy?

  • Janipurr says:

    Let me guess–you were homeschooled?

  • Canadian Mike says:

    Actually historically speaking the cutoff has typically has been 10. The US was a legal marrying age of 10 into the early 1900’s. The older marriage age is an extremely recent development. Look at the muslims they are still routinely marrying girls as young as 6 off to men as old as their 60’s. Personally I think that 18 is too young but they are legal so… I can also not help but notice that while they only chose to take male comments that there were female comments but this op-piece makes it seem like only men commented with no research done. It also shows a MASSIVE bias and so shows that it has no right to be taken seriously.

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