Like Matthew Chapman, Duck Dynasty Star Endorsed Child Marriage

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on December 30, 2013.

It has just come out that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, so recently suspended over homophobic and racist comments and then reinstated after backlash from his supporters, endorsed child marriage in a sermon in 2009.

At a Sportsmen’s Ministry talk in 2009, Robertson had some advice for a young man.

“Make sure that she can cook a meal, you need to eat some meals that she cooks, check that out,” he said. “Make sure she carries her Bible. That’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now, that’s a woman.”

“They got to where they’re getting hard to find,” Robertson remarked. “Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.”

The Duck Commander company founder added: “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that of course.”

He went on to say that the Bible gave Americans the right to hunt.

And Robertson practices what he preaches. He began dating his wife, Kay, when she was only 14 and he was 18. They waited until Kay was 16 to get married.

Those who are regular readers will remember my coverage last month of Matthew Chapman, a homeschool father who runs a small ministry and has similarly endorsed child marriage.

I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married [Maranatha was 15 when she was married to 27-year-old Matthew]. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?!

Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.

Matthew married his own daughter off at weeks after her sixteenth birthday. In both cases, the reasons for endorsing child marriage are essentially identical: girls married off at 15 are children, not adults, and are therefore more pliable, less assertive, and more easily led. They do not have life experience or a fully developed sense of self.

It remains to be seen whether Robertson’s endorsement of child marriage will be defended by his loyal following.

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