I can see from the comments on this thread that more needs to be said on the Vision Forum fiasco. In the nature of the case, I will have to address various subjects, and so it may look like I am meandering. Bear with me.
First, by way of background, let me refer you to this piece on “not being a victim” that my daughter Bekah wrote yesterday. In the aftermath of this kind of thing, one of the first thoughts that every parent should have is how to equip and prepare their own daughters to deal with this kind of man. The equipping has to occur beforehand.
Second, having now mentioned the word victim, I need to spend some time on why it is not appropriate to use that word in this circumstance. To speak of Doug Phillips and his “victim” is prejudging the case. We are not prejudging the case if we take what both parties in the dispute acknowledge, and reason from that. If she maintained that he started this when she was fifteen, and he denied it, then we would have to wait and see what the facts were. But if she says it started when she was a adult, and he says that too, then it is not prejudging the case to assume that they were both adults — and to expect them both to have acted accordingly.
Given that, either his sexual attentions were entirely unwelcome, or they were not. If they were not unwelcome, then the affair appears to have been one of complicated and unconsummated adultery, with two participants. She was an adult, and so if his attentions were not entirely unwelcome, she was a player in the vice, not a victim. The victim in this would have been Beall, with two people victimizing her.
But if his attentions were entirely unwelcome to her, and she was freaked out by the creepster, then we have to ask why she wasn’t down the road at the first opportunity — that night or the next morning — with Doug Phillips receiving notification of her opinion of what transpired via the sound of sirens. That’s not what happened, on anyone’s account, and so I don’t think we should identify her as a victim.
We can’t have it both ways. We cannot accuse Vision Forum of treating all women like little girls, and then turn around and treat all women as little girls who can’t be expected to say no to a cad at Vision Forum. Everyone who automatically assumes that Torres-Manteufel was necessarily the victim is ironically buying into a view of the world that assumes that grown women are not responsible for what they say or do.
“If we lived in a truly confessional age, with great preaching, theological geniuses writing their tomes, and so on, then we would have to worry about the naked Quakers running through Safeway again, and legalistic Anglican bishops cutting off people’s thumbs for having broken some stupid rule. But as it is, we are too anemic to get into serious trouble with legalism or antinomianism. We are the bland leading the bland, which provides us with some small measure of imagined safety, at least for a time” (Against the Church, p. 83).
In the providence of God, this memorial service is occurring the day before Good Friday. And this, of course, is just a handful of days before our celebration of Easter, the day when our Lord Jesus conquered death on behalf of all His people.
He did not do this as an act of raw power, although the Bible does teach that the resurrection was a powerful act (Rom. 1:4). The Bible teaches that death is more than simply an unfortunate event—it is a scorpion that has a sting in its tail, and that sting is defined by the holy law of a holy God. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).
So the resurrection of Jesus was not simply a display of power; it was a display of grace and forgiveness. The resurrection was more than a powerful event—it was a cleansing event. The resurrection shows that God has successfully drawn the sting.
“The fire of evangelical conviction, when scripturally governed, cries out for a fireplace to burn in. A well-designed fireplace, put together by biblically-minded craftsmen, cries out for a fire to go in it. A fireplace without a fire is cold and dead. A fire without a fireplace is fierce and destructive. Shouldn’t we be able to work something out? . . . The Bible brings the fire, and the Bible contains drawing for the fireplace” (Against the Church, p. 77).
“A lecture may connect a teacher’s notebook with a student’s notebook, but a sermon must connect God’s mind and heart with the mind and heart of the listener. It’s when we penetrate the imagination with metaphors that we assist the listener in ‘putting things together’” (Wiersbe, Preaching and Teaching with Imagination, p. 80).
Lourdes Torres-Manteufel was 15 when she met Doug Phillips, leader of Vision Forum, back in 1999. On her account, she was an adult when the relationship became sexual. The whole tangled affair is now in the courts, and it looks to become even more tangled and tawdry before we are all done.
My point in writing about this again is not to discuss any of the sensational or lurid details, which are really bad on anyone’s account, but rather to point to some of the larger realities that are perhaps going to be missed in the midst of the recriminations.
In the meantime, I pray that this thing gets settled out of court. I hope that Doug Phillips never even thinks about getting into ministry again. And it is also my prayer and hope that if the whole thing is dropped, that Torres-Manteufel, recently married, will get a running shot at a blessed and normal life.
As an aside, this is not the first time that I have been astonished by the willingness of Christian “worldview teachers” to resort to the unbelieving civil courts. If the stakes are large enough, the thinking goes, then surely it is not realistic to do what Paul said, allowing yourself to be defrauded rather than humiliate the church in the eyes of the unbelievers. In this instance, the sexual sin committed was humiliating enough — but at least the decencies of hypocrisy were observed. Now, with brazen threats of suits, Doug Phillips is disobeying the Word in a flagrant way (1 Cor. 6:1-8), and all to avoid paying consequences that he brought down on his own head. The Pauline injunction does apply to Torres-Manteufel also, but Phillips is the one was a teacher for many years, and who professed to understand this principle, and who should be willing to pay every dime he has to prevent this from becoming a greater laughingstock than it already has. Teachers incur a stricter judgment (Jas. 3:1), and our current problem should be more with what Phillips is doing right this minute, out in the open, and not what he did earlier behind closed doors.
“Love is not a walk around the block, but rather a long-haul trucking trip” (Against the Church, p. 76).
Everything you need to know about the Bundy face-off with the feds you learned in your childhood — that is, if you had the kind of childhood in which you read all the Robin Hood stories. If you want to know the rudiments of what is going on now, just substitute in phrases like “Prince John,” “Sheriff of Nottingham,” and “the king’s deer.”
Incidentally, before passing on from the Robin Hood thing, let me straighten out a common misconception about all that. When he robbed from the rich to give to the poor, this was not redistributionist socialism. It was not envy-ridden socialism, it was simple Sherwood justice. He was robbing from rich thieves in government, and giving the money back to the victims of a predatory IRS. The merry men did not have a flag, but if they had, it would have been yellow with a rattlesnake on it.
That noted, let me make just a few observations — as I have now taken up amateur sociology! — about the incident in Nevada.
I have noted a number of conservatives expressing their sympathies with Bundy, but also insisting that “legally” he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, and as conservatives we have to stand with the rule of law. Without the rule of law we are as but gibbons in the jungle. Right?