Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Pitfalls of Wealth Signaling in CP/QF life: The Maxwell Sisters


The wheels have fallen off the Maxwell wagon in fairly short order. 

Anna and Mary Maxwell are going to school out-of-state in West Virginia at Appalachian Bible College.  Sarah has moved out of her parents' house and is living on her own.

In the brief post on these two momentous events, Steve (in Teri's voice) mumbles something about how Anna and Mary are learning about missions and how Sarah's moving out is because of ministry.

If the extended stay-at-home daughterhood of Sarah, Anna and Mary Maxwell is based in morality or virtue signaling, none of this makes sense.

The Maxwells are very outspoken on how college is an expensive pit of lapsed Christians who are waiting to drag other people down.  Bible colleges may not be as laced with poison - but everyone should be able to gain the same information at home through a dedicated course of self-study.   

So why send Anna and Mary to West Virginia instead of locking them in their bedroom with whatever the fundamental Baptist version of the Little Rock Bible Study series is?

The Maxwells are equally clear that living alone is morally impossible due to the sheer amount of temptation to masturbate or have sex with a random stranger.  For the few people who are not swayed by that crystal clear rationale, the Maxwells march out the shopworn idea that renting an apartment is financially foolish "because you get nothing out of it!".   (You know, outside of use of said apartment.)

If that is true, how could two parents send their oldest daughter into financial and sexual ruin?

Maybe the Maxwell morals have changed.   If they did, we'll never hear about it.  

The bigger issue, I think, is finances. 

Yes, Steven Maxwell worked for years in a well-paid corporate job - but he also had eight children and a stay-at-home wife.   That's going to limit the amount of savings and assets accumulated compared to a family with 2 kids and a wife who works part or full time.

After leaving the corporate world, Steven started a business that took quite a few years to become profitable.  After all, the initial push of his business was printing and internet forms - two areas that were dated and rapidly contracting while he was building the business.

Over the past twenty years, the Maxwells built two profitable businesses and had at least three others fail.   That's an incredibly normal track record for starting businesses - but that likely ate some capital from the successful businesses that was not passed onto the partners.

The two successful Maxwell businesses are supporting fully or in part the majority of the Maxwell children and grandchildren right now.  John and Mary are the only two Maxwells who are not listed in connection with Nathan or Joseph's businesses right now.

In addition to the Maxwell for-profit business, the Maxwells have had Sarah run their non-profit Titus 2 ministry.  Sarah seems to have run a decently tight ship and had time to write the much more successful Moody book series - but Steve has also launched a huge money pit of presenting conferences under the flag of Titus 2.   Between buying land to park a tour bus, purchasing a broken-down tour bus, and spending lots of time and money demolishing said tour bus to create the death-trap on wheels they named Uriah, the conference gig was badly in the red before the first conference.

Add in gas costs,  the hotel costs in spite of Uriah, and mainly the reality that the Maxwells struggle to have conversations with non-family members and the Maxwells put a whole lot of money into a dead-end.   

Next thing Steve knows, twenty years have passed.   He's rapidly approaching 70 years old and the money he has saved through his career has to last not only the 20 years that he and Teri are likely to survive - but stretch to last the lifetimes of Sarah, Anna and Mary Maxwell.  

That's unlikely to happen - so the Maxwells went to Plan B. 

Sarah, who has been working a lot of hours on Titus 2 along with working for her brothers' businesses since she was a teenager, presumably has a good nest egg built up.  She's got her own cute red car and a home - which may be a house, an apartment or a condo - and with a little bit of luck, her brothers can help smooth the wheels of getting her first job for a non-Maxwell. 

In one of those twists of fate, a single women who is 39 is very over-the-hill in the insular CP/QF world has much better dating  sorry, courting,  prospects in wider society.

Anna and Mary seem to have less financial assets than Sarah - but they are also younger. 

Going off to college is a great way for the two of them to mingle in a larger crowd of people.  Once the awkwardness of being around people their own age wears off, college is a great place to make friends and network. 

Hopefully, someone will cue them in that a few of the degrees there provide greater options for careers than others.  For example, taking the elementary school teaching degree that aligns with the West Virginia Department of Education or doing a nursing degree in conjunction with another college gives a single adult woman far more options than a Biblical Counseling Degree with a concentration in Women's Ministries. (Friends don't let friends get fake counseling degrees.)

In terms of dating, well, Mary's not much older than the upperclassmen.   Anna's probably older than most of the undergrads - but they do have graduate degree students and an alumni network.  If the sisters join different churches, that will double the number of single guys they run into.  

The student handbook has a really detailed list of places where couples have gotten caught doing untoward affectionate activities like holding hands - so keep that as a list of places where the staff are keeping a close eye on - and get a bit more creative.

Now, ABC has some rather intrusive rules about getting married during the school year or too close to the beginning of the next school year.  I suspect the rules are in place to deal with housing snafus rather than anything else - but Mary and Anna have both had way too much experience with controlling adults to need to add another level of oversight.  

As such, I took a look at the school's calendar. 

May is a lovely month - and a great time to get married if you want to be sure that 1) you are out of school and 2)you are married for at least two months before the start of classes.

Best wishes from one who thinks this is a great step for all three of you!


  1. Hurrah! I wish all three of them success and happiness!

    Living on one's own/at a university is quite an adjustment I am sure, but hopefully it will all go smoothly for them.

  2. Wow, I'm delighted for all 3 of them! Way to go, Ladies!
    Just glanced at the comments after this announcement about the the changes. I'm kinda surprised that I don't see a lot of "best wishes to you, Sarah!" and more "I'm bummed you're shutting down my source of emotional support." Jeez people.

  3. I guess my first thought would be not so much that the parents told them to go make money, but that the girls finally had enough. If it had been financially motivated Sarah would have more disposable income to help with the housework and keep driving money to the parents if she lived with them and ran their ministry.

  4. You should really look at Susanna Mussers Facebook. She is now gay and has a female partner. Mind blown.

  5. I don't know if you saw, but the Botkin sisters spoke at a conference last year for the first time in ages. It was a very tepid re-examination of some of their teachings from So Much More. I'm curious to hear your take on it, since you're so familiar with their other writings/speeches.

  6. I just wanted you to knoe that I miss you posts. I hope that you and your family are all right!