INCH Homeschool Conference to Feature Child Marriage Advocate
May 6, 2016 screen capture of INCH website.
by Shade, Homeschoolers Anonymous Editorial Team
Michigan’s Information Network for Christian Homes has scheduled child marriage and trafficking advocate Vaughn Ohlman, of Let Them Marry Ministries, to speak at their 2016 conference May 19-21.
Ohlman will be teaching a seminar called ‘Why Aren’t I Married.’ The conference description states that he will be teaching ‘what the Scripture says about the path to marriage’:
According to Ohlman’s website, he believes in betrothals, not courtships. His website describes betrothal in the following manner:
The betrothal covenant is the covenant that makes a man and a woman into a husband and wife. It has no specific Biblical form; indeed it is expressed in Scripture in a whole variety of different ways, from fairly formal to purely physical…. The couple who are in the betrothal covenant, but have not yet come together physically, are said to be ‘betrothed’; and the time period where they are like that is called ‘betrothal’.
Ohlman most recently cancelled a retreat he had planned called ‘Get Them Married’, when the venue he had arranged was denied to him. Believing that marriage should happen before the age of 20, this gathering was to bring together ‘like minded families’ and their unmarried children, so that they could commit to young and fruitful marriages.
Outspoken critics have likened this to child sex slavery.
The Salvation Army put out a statement regarding their refusal of the venue, saying:
The Salvation Army has denied a request by the Let Them Marry organization to conduct its event at Camp Hiawatha.
Our decision is based upon our long-standing concern for the welfare of children. At The Salvation Army, we work every single day to provide a safe, caring place for children, many of whom have been left vulnerable due to the actions of adults.
We remain steadfastly focused on our mission of advocating for and protecting children.
Ohlman believes that a girl is ready for marriage when their bodies have developed secondary sexual characteristics or when they display interest in the opposite sex. Because this increases, according to him, the chances of fornication, a father is to be looking for a suitable husband for her immediately.
The ‘youth’ ready for marriage has breasts. A woman who is to be married is one who has breasts; breasts which signal her readiness for marriage, and breasts who promise enjoyment for her husband. (We believe that ‘breasts’ here stand as a symbol for all forms of full secondary sexual characteristics.)
“The ‘youth’ ready for marriage is ready to bear children. Unlike modern society Scripture sees the woman as a bearer, nurser, and raiser of children. The ‘young woman’ is the woman whose body is physically ready for these things, physically mature enough to handle them without damage.”
“… the above points represent, not a certain exact age, but a level of physical and sexual maturity. Not ‘maturity’ as in ‘been there, done that’, nor even a ‘maturity’ as in ‘have been at this level for a long time’, but a point of arrival…. The woman who has arrived physically and sexually at a point where she is ‘ready’ for a husband, is ready for a husband, else we make God out to be a liar… Calvin and Gill, quoting the Jewish authorities in reference to the term Paul uses in I Cor 7:36, place the lower limit of this at twelve years old for girls. Again, not that every, or even very many, girls reach this milestone at that age.
As a child bride, girls would be forced into marriages without their consent, at a time when they should still be playing happily with their toys. Instead, they are ‘covenanted’ or ‘betrothed’ in marriage, with the understanding that they should be fruitful right away. Even though a girl’s body is physically ready to bear children upon puberty, it is still not physically safe for her to do so.
He uses his own son and daughter-in-law as an example of success. Without the consent of either child, he and Laura’s father had emailed extensively, planning their betrothal. At the date of their ‘covenant’, they had only known each other two hours. She was 19.
Less than two hours later [after they met for the first time] we held a small ceremony in our back yard. My dad and Mr. Ohlman gave a short sermon/admonition, each to their respective children… and then my dad put my hand in Joshua’s, thereby giving me away to the man I henceforth have had the privilege of calling my husband! Barring family members, I had never held a man’s hand before.
Since covenants need no legal oversight, a father can ‘covenant’ or ‘betroth’ his unconsenting daughter to a boy with no hindrances.
Some have said that these beliefs are fringe, that not many support this ideology. However, the fact that he is speaking at a popular homeschooling event shows that his beliefs about betrothal and covenants are not fringe to the movement, rather they are mainstream.
Giving these ideas a broader audience will only further endanger children.
Please contact INCH and urge them to disinvite Vaughn Ohlman. You can contact them at 517.481.5994, through email, through their website, or through their Facebook page.
Thanks for the heads up, Shade and HA!
I will be calling and sending a email. Let’s make sure he gets pulled from the conference.
Emailed and messaged on Facebook. Also forwarded this info to local media outlets, who might find it, shall we say, interesting…. (FYI the fallout from Vaughn Ohlman’s cancelled child trafficking…er, betrothal event is now being picked up by the mainstream media, including the Kansas City Star, and media outlets in the UK.)
“Some have said that these beliefs are fringe, that not many support this ideology. However, the fact that he is speaking at a popular homeschooling event shows that his beliefs about betrothal and covenants are not fringe to the movement, rather they are mainstream.”
I’m really not sure we can make this logical leap. I’ve grown up going to these “popular homeschooling events” and I know that many of the speakers who were brought in adhered to beliefs that were very, very much on the fringe of the homeschooling movement (advocates of bizarre natural health remedies, etc., and I’m not just talking about your standard obsession with essential oils). Rather, speakers were chosen by influential members of the board of directors of the particular conference, without any concern for the views of the majority of homeschoolers.
Furthermore, in my own experience as a homeschooled kid in the largest homeschooling community in a very conservative Midwestern state, I’ve never encountered the betrothal model. Sure, I knew a lot of adherents to the “courtship model” and “biblical dating,” but I never met (or even heard about) anyone who practiced betrothal.
I’m all for warning about the dangers of this incredibly problematic approach to marriage, but let’s not make sweeping statements that it’s “mainstream” to the homeschooling movement. That simply isn’t true.
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This is horrifying and reminds me of my upbringing where these principles were taught. Fortunately I wasn’t married off (talked about by my parents but not followed through) and was kicked out at 17, but my best friend was bethrothed at 15 and married off at 16.
A father was supposed to own her daughter’s heart, break her spirit so he could have her full submission mind and body, marry her to whoever he pleased and she was to be joyful with his choice for he was the head of the home. I couldn’t be fully broken so was kicked out, dead to them, though in truth utterly broken and traumatised. Girls in our community who didn’t submit faced the same fate, lose everything for not being a living breathing doll. We were so heavily indoctrinated with this crap it took me years to realize submission of body and mind wasn’t something to be proud of and I shouldn’t be ashamed of being cast out for not submitting enough to my father and later my ex husband who beat me. Being a good girl, a righteous and holy girl meant not having thoughts of your own, not stepping out of line and being joyous and grateful for even the harmful and oppressive decisions made for you and discipline imposed by your father and later your husband. These sorts of teachings are so damaging and invasive at a time in life when a child is still developing physically, mentally and psychologically.