Patriarchy, Vision Forum, and All the Rest of It

Patriarchy
Patriarchy simply means “father rule,” and so it follows that every biblical Christian holds to patriarchy. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23), and fathers have the central responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Children are required to obey their parents (both of them), and since the wife is to follow the lead of her husband in all things (Eph. 5:24), this means that the father is responsible to provide for and protect his family. Father rule. That’s the good part.

But there are objections, some to the substance and some to the word. The first substantive objection is that many men are fools and idiots. This is indeed a strong argument for not marrying one of those. It is not a strong argument for making a bad situation worse after you have done so (1 Pet. 3:1-2).

When men fail to fill their office, or they fill their office for a time and then wander off the path, this does not leave the wife and children without recourse. No human authority in this sinful world is absolute, and there are times when a woman must play the role of Abigail in dealing with a blockhead husband. We have emphasized this many times in our ministry and there is no reason to rehearse it again here. But the sure and certain limits on a man’s authority in the home are not a basis for saying that his authority there is non-existent.

Another objection is that if you grant this office to men, it will go to their heads, and they will abuse their position, as Doug Phillips did. First, it is not a nebulous “you” that grants this position to men, but rather the words of God in Scripture. Second, when men sin in this position, as they certainly do, we should seek to counter such disobedience with more obedience, not less obedience.

I would observe again (mildly) that hypocrisy does not have the power to change the exegesis of any particular passage. If the Bible taught father rule before Doug Phillips fell into his sin, then it teaches the same thing afterwards. Those people chortling over this particular fall were opposed to the Pauline instructions on marriage back when they thought no such sin had occurred.

But the Word Patriarchy Makes Me Feel Icky
The word patriarchy has more than a narrow denotation. There are also connotations, which must be taken into account as well. It does no good to use a word, and then, when everybody in the world misunderstands me, to plead the dictionary. Some of these connotations are honestly come by and some of them are not.

First, consider the bad connotations that are the result of slander. Feminists diligently labor to represent any form of father rule as inherently bad, or at least as bad as a relativist can make it out to be — which is pretty bad since the case need not be based on careful reasoning, but rather just screeching. Screeching goes a long way these days.

So, after a generation of saps has gone through the feminist indoctrination that we call the university system, all you have to do is use the word patriarchy in some unapologetic way, and everybody stares at you like you were a six inch cockroach or something. So what we have to do is discount the slander while taking into account the effects of that slander over time. This is a delicate operation, however — swap in a word like complementarity for patriarchy and you might find that you imported more squish factor than was initially intended.

But the other factor affecting the connotations of the word has to do with the behavior of those who profess to be champions of it. The central connotation-generator that comes from ostensible fans of patriarchy is the problem exhibited by those who have super-high views of authority for everyone that is under their authority, but with virtually non-existent views of the authority that God placed over them. Husbands who fall for this demand submission from their families, and never exhibit it themselves. The Bible does give a father and husband true authority in his family. But it also gives the elders of the church true authority over that family (Heb. 13:7,17). There is a kind of male conceit that does not know how to submit, and a number of these people have embraced the word patriarchy. They think biblical worldview thinking consists of nothing more than irritating feminists.

There are good Christian folk who agree with the substance of biblical teaching, outlined above, but who do not want to be confused with this particular unsubmissive tribe. So there’s that.

Vision Forum
Obviously the reason for this post is to address some of the fallout from Doug Phillip’s resignation from Vision Forum. Now the word comes that the decision has been made to close that ministry down. Given the circumstances, this decision is fitting and appropriate. “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (Ecc. 10:1).

Here are just a few things for us to remember as we process all of this. Here are some lessons to carry away.

When an advocate of biblical truth sins like this, we should not complain about how  the enemies of the Lord are chortling over this (2 Sam. 12:14). If you don’t want them whacking you, don’t hand them the stick.

Second, I have little doubt that some of the machismo patriarchalists that I described above gravitated to Vision Forum circles, and found what they thought was adequate cover there. On the one occasion where I met Doug Phillips, this was one of the concerns I shared with him about some of his followers, and he had no problems with that concern. I am sure we have substantial disagreements in this whole area, but he agreed with that part of it. So what else is new? But I also have little doubt that many marriages have been saved as a result of the things learned from Vision Forum. Our responsibility is to continue to oppose any and all abuses as they come and to continue to thank God for the good fruit.

I also have little doubt that there are any number of Wilson fanboys out there who are a standing irritant to their pastors, and not in a good way either. I write what I write, and try to qualify it as best I can, but I cannot vouch for the wisdom of every application. Results may vary. This means that I don’t want to condemn Vision Forum with a standard that could just as easily be used to condemn any Bible teacher in the world (Matt. 7:1). But this takes us back to the first point, because the nature of this sin is that it has given the microphone to those who will refuse to make such judicious distinctions.

And third, our only hope is in the perfections of Christ. This is a good thing, because if we had to rest in the imperfections of Christians, there would be no rest for us at all. The one place that scandal will never come is at the right hand of the Father.

Conclusion
Testosterone is a good thing, and can be used by God as part of His gifting men for leadership, but it is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. God uses gifts, but He blesses fruit.

A man with lots of testosterone is in a position to start a dynamic ministry that speaks to thousands, that fills conference halls, and that rivets people to their seats. Taking a hypothetical, that very same man is also in a much better position to succumb to the blandishments of a stripper with a stage name of Foxy Bubbles, and all in the settled conviction that his sin will not find him out. How could his sin find him out? He rivets people to their seats.

Samson eventually had his eyes put out, but even before he lost his eyes he was not able to see what Delilah was doing with and to him. The thing that God was using against the Philistines, his strength, was also the thing that Delilah was using in a series of sexual jiu jitsu moves against Samson. It is an old trick, and it still works very, very well.

Many years ago, I had a weekly radio column on KWSU, a local public radio station. This was a fun gig while it lasted, which was until the time that I said on the air that men were necessarily dominant. The only question before the house was whether or not that dominance was going to be constructive or destructive. This was one of my early encounters with liberal tolerance for views other than their own, and it was an educational experience.

The point is that patriarchy is inescapable, and our only choice is between men being faithful, for blessing, and men failing, for humiliation and chastisement. The thesis is not that men are good, but rather that men are crucial. When they are crucial and selfish, a lot of bad things happen. When they are crucial and obedient, a lot of good follows.

Nothing that has happened at Vision Forum changes this reality. Men are not automatically a blessing. They are called to be a blessing. When they refuse, or when they turn away, the effects are devastating. This was one of the things taught by Vision Forum, and it is a reality that we can see the truth of now in the shuttering of the ministry. And when we have had the truth of something so manifestly displayed for us, that is not the time to abandon it.

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Robert
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Robert

Sounds like you are saying that a man who is not an alpha male is more likely to see traps that alpha males miss.

Arwen B
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Arwen B

Really? ‘Cause it sounded to me like he’s warning men to not let their machismo get the better of them… regardless of which “dominance category” they fall into.

BJ
Guest
BJ

This is just another example of why the Christian worldview’s battle for absolute truth is the major fight for today. For those who are pragmatists, they see this as an example of why we should adjust or change our views about patriarchy. It fails sometimes, so we need a broader or more inclusive understanding of the family roles. That is why they see us as irrational or backward. (This is, of course, the kind interpretation of their motives.) But for us as Christians, we are not moved from our position in the face of sin, even egregious and persistent sin,… Read more »

Megan
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Megan

I am not going to get into an argument about this. I guess I am a little shocked that the NT has been turned into the “New Testament Law For the Church” . . . the further away I get from that mindset, the more I see it . . . I came across this blog today, written by two young men (who remain anonymous). They suffered a great deal within the Doug Phillips . . . . um . . . way of life? I read it . . . and I was edified. Take it or leave it.
http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/the-stones-you-cast-the-tables-you-built/

Seneca Griggs
Guest
Seneca Griggs

Satan remains an implacable enemy to the Word of God. It never changes; 
The first recorded words of the devil constitute a challenge to Gods word: “Yea, hath God said?” (Gen. 3:1, KJV). To this day, he hasnt dropped that challenge. Its the heart of his strategy. Both outside and inside the church, the devil works to impugn the word of God as we find it today in the Bible. Has God really said this? Is the Bible really the word of God?  Larry Wilson

ColleenInWis
Guest
ColleenInWis

Some of us would agree that the Bible gives leadership to men, but we would disagree with the way it is practiced in patriarchal circles.  It seems to me as though the male leader becomes the mediator between God and the woman.  As a wife of more than 30 years, I’ve thought a great deal about this, and I simply do not see that our heavenly Father commands me to put my husband (let alone other males) in the place of my God.  Yes, I submit to my beloved as unto the Lord, but I do not, for a few… Read more »

Tim H
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Tim H

There was no reason to shut down VIsion Forum unless Vision Forum in reality was but a dba for Doug Phillips, as some of us suspected all along. If so, then watch for the lucrative product line to reappear under some other proxy, but with Doug as the chief beneficiary, as always.
 

Jane
Member

Tim H, let’s suppose that Vision Forum was essentially a business run by and for the benefit of Doug Phlilips.
Is there a problem with that? Your implication seems to be that there is something insidious about a guy running a business that is nothing other than a business for the benefit of himself and his own family. If I am not reading you wrong, what exactly is your issue with that?

timbushong
Member

Megan–you wrote “I am not going to get into an argument about this.”

And then you proceeded to argue.

ttpog
Guest
ttpog

ColleenInWis, ‘…that her father and her suitor are the ones who may decide whether or not she will marry said suitor….’, was not taught or adhered to by those in the supposed ‘patriarchal circles’.   A daughter always has the right to refuse a suitor for whatever reason.  I never heard such things as you assert taught by Doug Phillips or any of the supposed ‘self-proclaimed leaders of the homeschooling community.’.  Seems like many are taking advantage of a sad situation and using it to further bludgeon those whom they disagree with.  Not very Christ-like!

Newt-Reagan Churchill
Guest
Newt-Reagan Churchill

Nice finger-wag, Tim. You totally nailed it.

Sharon Autenrieth
Guest

No, Tim, Megan presented an opinion – a dissenting one at this blog, but she didn’t argue.  However, I’m disagreeing directly with you, so feel free to consider my comment arguing.  I don’t mind.

In this post Wilson makes a lot of insinuations about the character of the still-unidentified woman, while basically telling us that Phillips’ problem was an excess of testosterone.  Repugnant and ridiculous, but I don’t expect anything better from Mr. Wilson.

Tim H
Guest
Tim H

Jane — for two reasons. First, the manner of presentation is not “Doug Phillips Inc,” but rather it presents itself as a “non-profit ministry.” So your typical customer, when faced with some outrageous item in the catalog — I don’t know, maybe $70 for a plastic “Viking sword” or something — is gulled into thinking, “but this is not just some guy trying to gouge us with some junk, but it is supporting an important movement” etc. Notice that even the link to the news report that Douglas gives above refers to closing the “ministry” down. And the distinction between… Read more »

ttpog
Guest
ttpog

Megan, I looked at the blog you mentioned.  First, that these people remain ‘anonymous’ is very telling.  Second, the amount of anger they are nursing is alarming.  They obviously have unresolved issues in their lives that has caused them much pain, but their angry insistence that is the fault of someone/something else at this point in their adult lives is quite juvenile. It is past time that they grow up, lay it at the foot of the cross, forgive and move on!

ttpog
Guest
ttpog

Tim H and Jane, VF Ministries is what was shut down.  It was the non-profit arm of VF, the one responsible for the conferences and all events.  Vision Forum Inc., which is the for-profit side with sales of their product lines via on-line store, catalogs (in the past) and store front, was not shut down.   This side of VF has never presented itself as a ‘non-profit ministry’ due to the fact that that was not what it was.  It is Doug’s personal business which he owns. It appears, Tim, you have these two separate entities confused, and, as a… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

I think Tim has some valid points

Sydneysider
Guest
Sydneysider

“Given the circumstances, this decision is fitting and appropriate”– Douglas, are you saying you now know what the circumstances were?

Roger P
Guest
Roger P

Vision Forum Ministries, the non-profit, has indeed been shuttered. Vision Forum web and catalog retail sales business has not closed.

Julie
Guest
Julie

Really. So let me ask you. If the women has an affair is the man suppose to be like Abigal? Give me a break!

Katecho
Member

Who’s in trouble with who knows what?  Try a dose of scuttlebutt.  Juicy thoughts to think and say.  It’s the game we all can play.  Eager lips, and fit to burst.  Let’s join hands and think the worst.  Is it what the Lord would do? You’ll hope it’s never done to you.

kyriosity
Member

I think there’s some confusion. I’m haven’t seen any news that Vision Forum, the homeschool resource for-profit company, is shutting down. Rather it is Vision Forum Ministries, the not-for-profit organization that is closing down. I think that makes some of the comments here moot (in the common American sense).

kyriosity
Member

Nicely done, Katecho.

Katecho
Member

Who’s’n trouble with who knows what?  Try a dose of scuttlebutt.  Juicy thoughts to think and say.  It’s the game we all can play.  Eager lips, and fit to burst.  Let’s join hands and think the worst.  Is it what the Lord would do? You’ll hope it’s ne’er done to you.

 

(flows better with seven syllables each)

Jane
Member

My understanding was that the catalog operation and the ministry were two separate entities, and that the decision to close the “ministry” is the one that Doug Wilson is referring to — the announcement about closing the catalog operation may even have come after Wilson wrote the above post.

Jane
Member

Insofar as it is the case that the “ministry” was actually the Phillips family business and not effectively separated from the commercial part of the business, I agree with your concerns. But it was not my impression that this was the case.

Katy
Guest
Katy

ttpog said  <i>  It is past time that they grow up, lay it at the foot of the cross, forgive and move on! </i> It is high time that people who call themselves followers of Christ, lay down their demands for others to shut their mouths and “move on”.  This is not Christ. Jesus would not tell a young person who has been terribly abused to “get over it already”. Jesus defended the weak, the abused, the downtrodden – and He had nothing but rebuke for the Pharisees.  We do not show the love of God when we demand that hurting… Read more »

wackytobeme
Member

Maybe this will be ample clarification,                                             http://www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/default.aspx?path=/2013/11/10958/                                                                A Note from Doug Phillips Last week, I announced my resignation from the presidency of Vision Forum Ministries, a 501(c)3 organization. I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc., a distinct and private company, but consistent with my desires to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, I will not be giving speeches or running conferences at this time of my life under the banner of VFI or VFM. In addition, Doug’s Blog will become the… Read more »

Jane
Member

On further investigation, I can find no evidence that Visionforum.com is going to be shutting down. It is the Vision Forum Ministries that is folding. They are distinct entities — apparently the Phillips family business will keep operating as such, but the ministry as such is folding.________________________Is there an objection to that course of action?

Megan
Guest
Megan

ttpog — Argumentum ad hominem. Please respond to the content, not your opinion about the authors. 

ColleenInWis
Guest
ColleenInWis

ttpog, my point was that those in the patriarchal movement are not the only christians who believe and practice male headship.  Yet, the particular practices of this movement have been dominant in many homeschool circles through peer pressure, advertising of VF-type products, homeschool conferences, etc.  I’m asking for freedom within the homeschool community to not be pressured to follow someone else’s interpretation of what a father’s leadership looks like.  The failure of one of the leaders of the movement gives the homeschool community the opportunity to take a look at what we’ve been pressured to accept and how the pressure… Read more »

ColleenInWis
Guest
ColleenInWis

Megan posted a link to a blog called homeschoolersanonymous.  I noticed that, while many of the articles on the blog remain anonymous, the particular article she links to has a signature line with an author listed.  Thanks for posting it here, Megan!

soylentg
Member

I read the linked homeschoolers anonymous post.  I didn’t find it edifying, but I did find it educational.  I never before realized that the application from John 8:7 applied to women only.  Thanks for clarifying.

Katecho
Member

We are surely victims all.  And have a right to our offenses.  Cuz someone held then dropped the ball.  Precious hurt is the Christian way.  The Vision shipped inside the box, but grace was not included.  Now someone’s gotta pay.

T.W. Eston
Guest
T.W. Eston

Pastor Wilson, I appreciate the fact that you permit dissenting views, even from those who are less than tactful toward you. I’ll do my best to remain diplomatic. In your article “Doug Phillips’ Resignation from Vision Forum”, I posted several comments, one of which included, “Another article from you is in order, but I hope it will be considerably more circumspect and insightful than this one was.” You’ve done well in clarifying the biblical model of Patriarchy. It all sounds rather benign, and if in practice it really were that benign then I could largely agree with your interpretation. Doug… Read more »

T.W. Eston
Guest
T.W. Eston

BTW Pastor Wilson, it’s unfortunate that comments posted here truncate paragraph breaks. It makes it far more difficult to read the comments. Why does that happen and what can be done to avoid it?

Megan
Guest
Megan

TW Eston — Thank you. Very very much. All I have seen in the supporters of Phillips and Wilson, on this blog, is an extreme lack of mercy . . . a lack of Christ-like-ness . . . a concentration on the jot and tittle . . . and an incredibly inflated sense of self. I read through 1 John, chapter 3, this morning. By all obvious accounts, Doug Phillips *should* be pronounced as one who is from the devil (3:1-10). But, I could not even bring myself to say such a thing . . . I could not call… Read more »

Camp Director
Guest

Megan,
 
You make a lot of really serious accusations yet you provide little beyond some website statements of anonymous bloggers as proof. So, who’s without mercy and Christ-likeness here?
I have doubts that anyone will find Christ in posts like yours, either.
Pot meet kettle.

Megan
Guest
Megan

OH, PLEASE . . . 

Megan
Guest
Megan

OH, PLEASE . . . (eye-roll)

Katecho
Member

T.W. Eston’s long post seems to me to be a description and diagnosis of a preexisting condition of rampant pride, idealism, vainglory, and hypocrisy among Christians (both men and women).  Surely we can’t all be victims.  Let’s blame Phillips.  He held our coats.   I wonder if T.W. Eston ever knew Phillips, Swanson, McDonald, or RCJr on a personal level?  I had lunch with Swanson at a conference once, and my testimony is that he came across quite genuine and humble.  I detected no Type-A alpha-aggressive controlling tendency of any kind.  I also enjoyed a full evening with RCJr and… Read more »

Katecho
Member

I’m remembering details about the conference lunch where Swanson was a speaker.  I think he was there by himself.  I recall he didn’t sit at the head tables.  He came and sat at a table in the back where I was.  He was near a young family that had a Down’s Syndrome toddler in a booster seat right next to him.  He smiled and tickled and made eyes as if the infant was just as much a part of the conversation.  I’m to believe that was all for show?   I also recall the evening with the Sproul’s.  RCJr got… Read more »

T.W. Eston
Guest
T.W. Eston

Katecho: “Whatever his faults, I don’t have much patience for hasty generalizations of that man.” What irony! You just went and did exactly that! To answer your earlier question, yes, I know/knew each of these men personally. They are former personal friends (they all have many former personal friends and burn through friendships faster than you can imagine). I’ve formed my opinions of them not as you have, based on a brief encounter over a meal, speaking to them at a conference, casual acquaintance type “knowing” either. The fact is such “knowing” is no knowing at all. Each of these… Read more »

JP Stewart
Member

While I’m not a big fan of Phillips/VF and see some dangers in such Indie Baptist circles, I don’t find them near as troubling as all these “watchdog” blogs, websites and commenters that stalk them and report their every move.

'Lizbeth Anne
Guest
'Lizbeth Anne

Valerie,
I was counting on you to comment on the Lands’ End punctuation amid all of this fracas.

Erik Charter
Guest

I have heard that Phillips has shut the not-for-profit ministry down, but not the for-profit business that runs along side that. I have heard that business has roughly $3 million of annual revenue. Does anyone know if that is true?

Erik Charter
Guest

My concern with the “patriarchy movement” is that it is taking a small part of Scripture and turning it into a whole way of life, getting things out of proportion. Along with that can come judgments against fellow church members who don’t do likewise. In other words, it becomes a danger to Christian liberty. People have the right to run their families as they see fit (within reason) and I’m sure some are doing “patriarchy” without bothering others. Some I have met firsthand are pretty obnoxious, though. I’ve been to a conference on the family put on by Pastor Wilson… Read more »

Moor
Guest
Moor

It seems ironic that the comments have become so much a referendum on the character and behaviors of certain “Patriarchy” proponents, when Doug went to great lengths to say that the character and behaviors of “Patriachy’s” proponents is immaterial to its veracity.

Tim H
Guest
Tim H

You’re ALL crazy — Jew Phillips and his crazy cult followers on the one hand, AND all the self-appointed victims that won’t take responsibility for their own problems.

Sydneysider
Guest
Sydneysider

But the character and behaviours of “Patriachy’s” proponents are NOT immaterial to its veracity. If even the founder of a movement cannot make it work right, then perhaps it just doesn’t work. Nor is “Patriarchy” inevitable. At the conservative end, Complementarians like cbmw.org distinguish themselves very carefully from “Patriarchy,” on eminently Biblical grounds. There were also a number of clear and deadly flaws in the “Vision Forum” approach, which people had long pointed out. First, it made Doug Phillips into an idol (and idols always come crashing down). Second, it created an army of late-marrying unemployed “stay at home daughters.”… Read more »

ColleenInWis
Guest
ColleenInWis

St. Lee–what on earth?  I think you read something between the lines that wasn’t there.  The article (at Homeschoolersanonymous) wasn’t even written by a woman.  And again, T. W. Easton, it wasn’t anonymous.  The author’s real-life name is given.