Botkins, Pejoratives and Jeremiads

In response to a letter that I received from the daughters of Geoffrey Botkin, at the time of this writing, I have pended most of the material on this blog and have privatized and changed the name of another that I created in 2007. This “Pages” section of Under Much Grace expands upon this post to explain my core rationales behind my actions. As I have time to review previous writings and edit relevant content in more than 1000 blog posts pertaining to spiritual abuse, I will restore them, again making them publicly accessible.

I have restored
“Who is Geoffrey Botkin?” first – a 2007 blog post which the daughters specifically mentioned, describing what they present as their own understanding of it as a fiction of lies.

These young women who allege that I have dealt them sore abuse personally in both name and image fail to understand that I never wrote about them specifically.  I critiqued their father and mentioned them only with as much vagueness and generality as I could.  The daughters seem to find my allusions to them in a general sense to be suspicious and unfair. My focus on their family model was never about them; it has always been about the family's effort to establish their own family as the exemplar that demonstrates how to live properly as a Christian at the dawn of the 21st Century.  Geoffrey Botkin sold information about his theoretical and allegedly Biblical model to homeschoolers, often through the vehicle of Vision Forum until the time that Doug Phillips was forced to close it because of scandal. Therein, all females in the household (both child and adult) serve the vision/kingdom mandate of their husband or father, so a righteous daughter could only ever follow the plan that her father laid out for her.

Who then is the person who is responsible for the plan for the family?  For his daughters, that can only be Geoffrey Botkin.  If the vehicle he used to share his plan with others happened to be his teenage girls, one cannot discuss the model without making some mention of the daughters who wrote a book and produced a video to communicate their father's ideas.  If I could have done so without their names, I certainly would have . (In many ways, I included their name to honor their personhood. While I find their father's model for family repugnant, good scholarship demands mention of their names, and I wanted to give them due credit for the undertaking of writing a book, especially considering that they were young teenagers at the time.)

I believe that the Botkin letter appears at No Longer Quivering in its entirety.  I’m not entirely certain, however, because of my own emotional reaction of sorrow mixed with anger hinders my ability apprehend its full intent. I did not have difficulty discerning their primary endpoint demands: (1.)removal all references to their family name on all online venues that I own (prejudice against those deemed by some Theonomists to be antinomian as a function of their own freewillism), (2.) the drop-dead date that they imposed (what Cialdini describes as the scarcity weapon of influence), and (3.) what I understand as a legal threat to collect recompense from me for perceived financial loss they suffered because of my blogging.

I have pended the online material to which they most vociferously objected at what once was The content that I preserved here at Under Much Grace will need a great deal of editing to remove the theological fringe descriptor of “Botkin Syndrome” if I even elect to restore the content at a later date. I'm willing to rename it as Enmeshed For Jesus. I am also happy at this late date to change the blog name and remove as many references to “Botkin Syndrome” as possible in light my spirit of compassion, acknowledging that bounded choice limits the Botkin daughters' own agencyI did not pend anything out of any concern or fears that I’d either used terminology improperly or because I thought that there was merit to the daughters' allegations that I'd published libel to accuse their father of a felony.

Please note that I am not willing to remove all references to “Botkin Syndrome” which I claimed as a theological term that describes the teaching of this fringe group. While I am disposed to a spirit of grace towards these young women, in all good conscience, I will not repent of a sin that I believe that I did not commit, nor of the jeremiad that I've written honestly about my opinion of their family's teachings. To remove any and all mention of the Botkin name would make me guilty of what I believe is a greater sin – that of having no accountability for what I have written. Removing the name prevents me from publicly owning the terminology that I chose to use as well as the defense of my beliefs about the matter.
Discerning what constitutes meekness and patience when confronting and exposing abuse presents a ubiquitous conundrum. I am of the mind that it is also sinful to try to cover up or dress up the crushing of the heart and mind of a child. I assert that their model prevents the development of a female child's critical thinking and their healthy psychosocial growth and development. That which is tragic should seem tragic, and I believe that we do a disservice when we use language to define evil or even soften some evils to present them as something good or even benign.

Covert incest and its sequelae stand among the most tragic things I've ever seen, and when I see those dynamics presented as wholesome and Biblical, I'm provoked to grief and travail. I understand if Christians deem my public discussion and choice of language as less than meek and patient or even bombastic. Those criticisms of my choices differ profoundly from the allegation that I've used that terminology improperly.

The daughters don’t state it as such in the letter, but in a Dunning Krueger style error of their own, I would describe their allegations as their claim that I've practiced medicine without a license by diagnosing what they wrongly understand to be a mental illness.  What they claim constitutes a diagnosis actually qualifies as an assessment finding that a diagnostician might draw from a theoretical perspective to support a diagnosis. Nursing practice delineates that a nurse may assess and teach information about health and wellness – precisely what I believe that I've presented in the blogosphere.

Standing on my training at seminary, I claimed Botkin Syndrome as a theological term. If the Geoffrey Botkins and Doug Phillips of this subculture had formal training and had submitted to the discipline of seminary study, I might find their criticisms to be more compelling. Had I not submitted to expertly trained and credentialed theologians and mental health professionals who reviewed my previous work, I might find the Botkin daughters' allegations more convincing. However, I know that apologists within the Christian community have challenged the aberrant teachings within this subculture, and those apologists were also were countered with threats of adjudication (a spirit of prideful, intolerant bullying as opposed to a spirit of accountability, humility, and grace).

Without evoking the Botkin name, I can still make a case for my position using other legitimate, faithfully cited  terminology that I use in all of my writings to refer to covert (emotional, nonphysical) incest, the specific type of psychosocial and emotional enmeshment between a parent and child. (The evidence of enmeshment that I observe between the Botkin daughters as a coping mechanism does not constitute covert incest per the literature because it doesn't involve the exploitation of a child by a parent.) The term 'covert incest' (non-physical, psychosocial abuse) overlaps with the colloquial understanding and connotation of sex acts among immediate family members and physical sexual abuse which describes a felony. Laypersons often fail to transcend the stress that such a loaded term evokes which causes cognitive dissonance which powerfully inhibits a person's critical thinking ability with emotional distress and distraction.

If well qualified, use of the term (covert incest) as an assessment finding which describes emotional, non-physical abuse exacted by adults upon children will remain in my writings.  Several well established, well credentialed, widely respected experts use the term in both professional works and self help writings for laypersons.

Especially because of the vast degree of chronic, profound emotional and spiritual damage as well as the physical disease that such Adverse Childhood Experiences create for children which persist and progress into their adulthood, I will not abandon the term 'covert incest,' nor will I abandon my thesis that literature concerning abusive relationships and the roots of addiction describes parallels that the patriarchy movement within the subculture of Christian homeschoolers attempted to establish as Biblical teaching.

Received February 4, 2019: