Vision Forum and a Season of Meditation

If you read through the complaint filed against Doug Phillips and Vision Forum by Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, it is plain that the tangled mess there — a mess that is entirely the responsibility of Doug Phillips — is a tangled mess.

I make a point of saying (again) that this whole catastrophe is the responsibility of Doug Phillips because it is, and also because — as should be apparent in the comment threads of my previous posts on this — there is a certain kind of mind that does not understand careful adjudication of claims and counter-claims. While they don’t understand how justice is supposed to work, they do understand taking up sides based on a partisan agenda. Thus it is that any expressed desire for caution in practice is taken as a full-throated defense of abusive behavior in principle. If it seems like someone doesn’t want to hang Doug Phillips right this minute, the accusation is thrown at them — “how would you feel if this had been your daughter?” I think I would feel about the same way as I would feel if false accusations of sexual abuse were thrown at my son.

I continue to believe that this whole thing should be sorted through by Christians, with a view to our testimony before a watching world. Based on the undisputed facts that have come out thus far, I have no doubt that if this were adjudicated properly, we would all see at the conclusion that Doug Phillips acted the part of a manipulative scoundrel. I met him once, in 2010, and he took the opportunity then to blow sunshine up my skirt. So nothing about this is a defense of the indefensible.

In the meantime, there is the civil suit, and Phillips is not responding to it in a godly way at all. In a recent radio interview, Doug Phillips’ attorney Jason Jakob said that Torres “is just after a paycheck.” Given everything that everyone acknowledges about this travesty, that hardly seems credible to me. But suppose for a minute it is true. Suppose she is just after a big payday — why wouldn’t Phillips just give it to her? By arguing the finer points of justice in this setting, he is just dragging the name of Christ through the slime bog of his grotesque pattern of his earlier injustices. Phillips plunged headlong into this sin because he was abhorred by the Lord (Prov. 22:14), and so his behavior needs approximate that of a penitent. He has been brought low because of his disobedience to the Lord. If he continues to disobey, does he really think the Lord can’t bring him lower?

At the same time, outside observers can and should see that she was not simply a mannikin. Just taking her complaint at face value, it is plain that she is not taking the right kind of responsibility for her poor responses to Doug Phillips’ immoral advances. The complaint acknowledges, “She did not at all times refuse Defendant’s sexual advances, but submitted to them based on the fraudulent statements Defendant had made to her.” Those fraudulent statements would include promises of marriage in the future and so forth. While she objected numerous times to his sexual behavior (according to the complaint), the complaint also uses phrases like she “came to see her situation as abusive,” he “persuaded her,” she continued to work for him for several years “not wanting to disappoint,” and so on. On her terms, she was seduced into a compromised position and conflicted state of mind. But despite her continued presence and availability, the complaint alleges that during the entire time she was “incapable of giving consent.” It says this because it is clear that there were instances where she did give consent, and her attorney wants to say that she was in effect in the position of a minor when she did so.

Her incapacity is allegedly the result of the whole patriarchal world that she was enveloped in. But you can’t have it both ways. The behavior that she did not run from after the first incident was behavior on Phillips’ part that was high hypocrisy according to that same patriarchal world. She was an adult, and she should have identified the hypocrisy for what it was upon the first manifestation of it, and she should have recoiled from it. Recoiling from it is not the same thing as putting up with it for years.

The things that are alleged about the “tight little world” of Vision Forum do give a plausible explanation as to why she wouldn’t bring charges against Phillips within their system of church courts. But they don’t explain why she didn’t tell her parents about what had happened immediately, and it doesn’t explain why their whole family wasn’t gassing up the car the next morning to head down the road to find a place where the spiritual leader wasn’t a toad. According to her complaint, when her family did discover what had been happening, they stood up to Phillips despite all the patriarchal teaching. When her family discovered what had happened, they believed her, not him. The reason they didn’t stand up to him years earlier is that, according to her complaint, she did not give them the opportunity to do so.

Scripture never finds fault with a woman who is a victim of some man’s sexual predations (Deut. 22:26). But if she has an avenue to get help, she is responsible to use it. In this case, at a bare minimum, she had a responsibility to get out of range. And if holding her to this standard comes across as a defense of Phillips, then I would urge you to return to my third paragraph for a season of meditation.

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JP Stewart
Member

While I’m no fan of VF’s brand of patriarchy, I’m also not a fan of the hateriarchy movement. I associate that term with the numerous websites and blogs devoted to tearing down anything related to VF, conservative home schoolering, etc. One such site was written by a young lady who blasted Doug Phillips in a post while devoting other sections of her blog to a STD she acquired. Unfortunately, that crowd won’t be happy unless you accuse Phillips of eating live babies and proclaim LT-M a near perfect, sinless being with 0% fault in the entire ordeal. Good post, BTW.… Read more »

valerieab
Member

So your definition of victim in this context hinges on “capacity for consent”? That helps me understand the last post a bit better. If she had capacity for consent, she wasn’t a victim; if she hadn’t had it, she was. Which is not at all the same as saying that if she had capacity for consent, she wasn’t sinned against. She was sinned against…and very, very badly. I’m not sure I’d define things quite the same way — I think there’s room in this situation for the language of victimization (at least in common usage, if not in a technical… Read more »

valerieab
Member

MKT,

“hateriarchy” <– nice one.

AShore
Guest
AShore

Excellent article – and I liked this statement very much
“The things that are alleged about the “tight little world” of Vision Forum do give a plausible explanation as to why she wouldn’t bring charges against Phillips within their system of church courts”

carole
Guest
carole

I don’t know how anyone could write more clearly than this. If the points are still misunderstood, I have to believe it is willfully.

Bert Perry
Guest

I am guessing that as the trial pans out, we are going to hear a lot more about how VF was set up in such a way to (a) be the person’s whole world and (b) be set up in such a way that no “insider” could confront Mr. Phillips and come out “intact”.  I would even guess that the offers for Christian reconciliation may be used as evidence if they were to be done by friends of Mr. Phillips–rightly or wrongly.  The parallel is teachers who misuse students, who (again rightly or wrongly) view administration and police as “in… Read more »

Anne Garboczi Evans
Guest

Let’s just look at the first incident. He came to her room in the dark and molested her. She said, no, stop! He didn’t. You said she should have told her dad immediately. She said Phillips told her that if she told it would ruin his ministry and family. After that first incident, Lourdes didn’t want Beall and the kids or Vision Forum to get hurt so she just told Phillips to stop rather than starting a lawsuit. You can’t both criticize Lourdes for going to the authorities now and not going to them earlier. Also, Phillips told her that… Read more »

linda k.
Guest
linda k.

When I read this, a few years back–

http://dougwilson.wpengine.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/down-on-the-banks-of-the-ohio.html

it seemed as if you respected him. Were you able to discern at that time that he was ‘blowing sunshine up your skirt’ ??

Thomas Lemke
Guest

Pastor Wilson: In this post it looks like you are saying, in effect and with Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” If that is all you intended all along, I agree, and apologize for leaping to any conclusions. I do, however, think it is much too soon to write off victim classification for Lourdes (as it seems you were saying pretty decisively in your last post on the subject), but I can also understand the need to keep from denying any culpability whatsoever on her part for the… Read more »

Paulette Murphy
Guest
Paulette Murphy

Someone help me–I must be dense. (not being sarcastic)

What on earth does “he took the opportunity then to blow sunshine up my skirt” mean?

Sometimes, Pastor Wilson, you’re a bit too witty for me.

Excellent post, by the way.

willis
Guest
willis

I think sunshine up skirt is another phrase for flatter in an artificial way.

Kimberley
Guest
Kimberley

God never leaves us without an example, does He? Doug Phillips is Potiphar’s wife using his power and influence for his own gratification. And Lourdes is Joseph. But she is the Joseph that didn’t resist and run.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Has anyone considered that it may have been near impossible for her to resist Doug Phillps advances? Consider her sheltered background and the high esteem those in the homeschooled community places on Doig Phillips. She undoubtedly trusted him and very well likely found herself powerless to say no to him. Victims who are groomed by sexual predictors and deviants have an extremely difficult time fighting off their advances.

Sydneysider
Guest
Sydneysider

Pastor Wilson, are you seriously asking why the victim here didn’t run? She didn’t run because Patriarchy trains women to show unquestioning obedience to men. And because this was not just any man, but her pastor and spiritual guru to the “Visionary Daughters.” And is the idea that “this whole thing should be sorted through by Christians” a serious suggestion? What authority do you think Doug Phillips would recognise, given that he has already threatened legal action against the men who persuaded him to resign (http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/set_adrift/page1)? What makes you think that Doug Phillips is even a Christian? Also, past attempts… Read more »

valerieab
Member

“Reading comprehension!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach reading comprehension at these schools?”

Chris Twilley
Guest
Chris Twilley

“I have no doubt that if this were adjudicated properly, we would all see at the conclusion that Doug Phillips acted the part of a manipulative scoundrel.” It is much worse than this. He has paraded as a minister of the Gospel. He has functioned as an elder at his church all the while committing terrible sins of adultery and fornication. Preaching to others about how to have “Glorious Marriages” and “advanced family strategies.” He is a hypocrite of the highest order (I think the New Testament description of Pharisees comes to mind). I am pastoring a ‘family integrated’ church… Read more »

JP Stewart
Member

“Pastor Wilson, are you seriously asking why the victim here didn’t run? She didn’t run because Patriarchy trains women to show unquestioning obedience to men.” Please cite a source for this. Any VF book, video, etc. will do. Where do they teach that women should obey a man to the point of committing adultery? You’re basically saying LT-M has no moral agency here. Again, I agree the mess itself rests entirely on Doug’s shoulders. (Anyone saying this is purely “blame the victim” hasn’t read Doug’s posts, or has read them with with a huge amount of bias.) However, this doesn’t… Read more »

JP Stewart
Member

Since we have two Dougs here, I should have used last names only. My third paragraph should read:

“Again, I agree the mess itself rests entirely on Phillips’ shoulders. (Anyone saying this is purely “blame the victim” hasn’t read Wilson’s posts, or has read them with with a huge amount of bias.) However, this doesn’t mean we should misrepresent the facts.”

Neo
Guest
Neo

I wish there was a link to the recent news story, as other than this post I was unaware Phillips was in the news.

Ross Clark
Guest
Ross Clark

And for what this is worth, a near-identical episode is playing out within the Fundamentalists: Bill Gothard, where the charges facing him(according to recoveringgrace.org) are nearly identical to those facing Doug Philips, with the qualifier that Bill Gothard is single. Which begs a horde of other questions, if not for discussion here.

Tony Campolo once observed (in a different context), “we have met the enemy and they are partly right”. When patriarchy, to coin a phrase, ‘goes bad’, it goes bad in spades.

carole
Guest
carole

Valerie, It boggles the mind, doesn’t it?! Chris, well said, ” Let’s call it what it is and lift up the gospel and the life changing effects of conversion by saying that this guy is lost, has always been lost and has an unrepentant heart that is in desperate need of regeneration.” I wonder if the need we see here to blame patriarchy and homeschooling is a classic case of looking for a reason to assure ourselves it won’t happen to us? In other words, if we don’t follow God’s design for families,patriarchy, if we don’t homeschool, then this sort… Read more »

JP Stewart
Member

Carole – Remember Cain and Abel? They had about as “pure” an environment as possible: no bad movies, internet, Common Core, neighborhood kids from dysfunctional homes, etc. They couldn’t even blame “oppressive” homeschooling or hypocritical patriarchy gurus either. And look what happened to them…

SarahS
Guest
SarahS

linda k: Good catch.

brian
Guest
brian

Pastor Wilson, was it with in the “divine” will of an all powerful being that this happen to this young lady? I ask this honestly as someone truly struggling with faith, it just appears that divine will and completely arbitrary seem to go hand in hand. I have personally been aware of IE I took care of the people afterwards, who were so badly sexually abused that it make the person unable to walk. That does not include the kids who were smacked around so much, I mean literally beaten half to death. So I am a bit emotional, I… Read more »

Valerie Jacobsen
Member

As I understood your argument in “Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum”– 1. It is not appropriate to prejudge the case with regard to DP. 2. But since both sides concede that the sexual contact started when LTM was over 21, we don’t have to wait and see what the facts are with regard to her complicity. 3. Since LTM did not or could not fight DP off and did not report him to the police, we may not describe her as a “victim”. Rather, her failure to go to the police indicates that she was most likely a “player in… Read more »

brian
Guest
brian

One last question if anyone can help me with this, from your worldview and your view of Scripture can you please help me with this, what is inerrancy of Scripture? Dont need a long answer here just a link to your (who ever answers) to your view. Thank You. Hope everyone has a nice day. I admit I am most likely a functioning Agnostic but I do hope all those involved find healing and true repentance so that said healing can happen.

Tim Mullet
Guest
Tim Mullet

Brian, In terms of inerrancy: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/chicago.htm Some Verses: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Peter 1:20-21 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 3:15-16 15 And count the patience of… Read more »

antexw
Member

Brian, In addition to all that Tim Mullet said, John 10:35’s “and the Scripture CANNOT be broken” teaching of Jesus Christ, who is the living and enduring Word of God Incarnate (i.e., made flesh), is also another good portion of God’s word Inscripturate that authoritatively teaches on the inerrancy of Scripture. Thus, Isaiah says that unlike grass, flowers, and men which are destroyed (Isaiah 40:6,7,8), the word of the Lord is enduring, and thus preserved which even ~750 years later as Peter testifies in 1 Peter 1:22,23,24,25. Although this doesn’t guarantee that a person copying the word of God cannot… Read more »

Shelly
Guest
Shelly

I would like to begin by stating I think I understand what you are saying. He sinned and holds the greater responsibility. She sinned and also must take responsibility for her part in it. They both sinned, and let Christians mediate a resolution between the two parties. One scenario: After all is said and done he pays restitution, is put under church discipline until their governing leadership believes he has fully repented of his sins and after a time returns to his former life and continues to live as if nothing ever happened. She is given monetary compensation, put under… Read more »

Boxelder
Guest
Boxelder

One can fall prey to manipulations. Fear clouds judgment. One can make bad decisions (or not make good ones). None of this makes her a culprit. There’s only one bad-guy in this little drama.

Bert Perry
Guest

I’m wondering if it’s Deuteronomy 22, or Exodus 22: 16, that is more applicable here. If we view the alleged acts as grooming, the better Biblical comparison would be “seduce” or “entice”, and Exodus 22 is interestingly mute on whether the woman is guilty or not of anything. The father can either allow the marriage or not, but the bride-price is to be paid. So apparently the father (and maybe village elders?) gets to suss out whether both fell into lust and nature took its course, or whether the man is a cad that does a good job of persuading… Read more »

Terri
Guest

I keep seeing a link to this post all over Facebook and a link to other people’s posts countering this one. One of the biggest problems with abuse towards women is the silence that too often happens- silence from the perp, and silence from the abused woman for various reasons, and silence from all of us who sit and read and never comment. So let me state clearly that you, Doug, are a bombastic ass. You do not know the turmoil, fear, temerity, the lack of self esteem, the fear of the unknown future, the fear of being David against… Read more »

A. Nonny Mouse
Guest
A. Nonny Mouse

test

A. Nonny Mouse
Guest
A. Nonny Mouse

20 or 25 years ago when I was working through my childhood abuse with a counselor, I insisted that there was sin I needed to confess. She tried to insist that all of the sin was on my abuser’s side, but I remembered clearly enough, and I won that argument. I was about 9 when it started, and my sin was wanting affection and intimacy so much that I was willing to go along with my abuser. I am NOT saying that every girl who is abused sinned the way I sinned!!! There are LOTS of different circumstances!!! But I… Read more »

Terri
Guest

Really, Doug? It’s still all about you? Really!?

There is an abused woman looking for strong men, a church, a God, a Savior who will be for her and you are concerned about being a bombastc ass? Seriously?

matilda
Guest
matilda

I concur with Nonny Mouse – I was in similar circumstances only much older at the time, and she is brave for bringing that up. Terri, I know you mean well but comments like that are actually really unhelpful because a) it doesn’t tell me anything about me and why it happened; and b) it doesn’t help me prevent it from happening again. I don’t know what your circumstances are, but people like myself and Nonny Mouse find it very hard to speak up sometimes because of misconceptions about sex abuse all around. Not everything in life is black and… Read more »

brian
Guest
brian

Brian and Tim thanks for the information made it through most of the links the declaration was helpful as was the biblical ref and your commentary. Much to think on I may ask more questions.

Again to be honest I disagree with most of the info posted here but I felt it would be better to come to people who actually hold the view of the bible I am looking at to understand it better. Have a nice weekend.

jay niemeyer
Guest
jay niemeyer

Terri, where did Doug even imply that it would be EASY to get help if a girl in the situation found an avenue of escape? Responsibility does not mean ease – ever. But if there is knowledge that there IS a way out of an abusive relationship – that there is indeed a smooth stone fit for sinking deeply into a very thick skull – we have a case where a woman thus EMPOWERED must act accordingly. Escape is an excellent means of defense. For Doug to advise its use when possible means that he IS providing a form of… Read more »

Tim Mullet
Guest
Tim Mullet

brian,

Glad you found the information helpful. If you need clarification let me know.

Jon Swerens
Member

If a young woman in this grievous situation does not immediately see the need to turn for help from her own father, then we can call this problem lots of things. But by definition what we cannot call it is too much patriarchy.

antexw
Member

You bet, Brian. I’ll keep an eye on this thread if you’d like to discuss anything more. Here’s an answer regarding the questions/concerns you raised to Doug a couple evenings ago (since he may not give a response). Yes, what happened to Torres is in the “divine will”, i.e. God’s decretive will, His will for what He decrees/plans will happen in history. This includes the decretive will to “give over” (Romans 1:28,29) Phillips to sexual/sensual lust (and if Torres allegations are true) and to also a lust/desire to sexually coerce/oppress. Torres, as a sinner also, would’ve in God’s decretive will… Read more »

Jane
Member

Sarah and Linda, I’m not sure why a post demonstrating that Wilson was successfully hoodwinked by Phillips’ personality is some kind of gotcha against the point that he now realizes that Phillips was being insincere. Could you explain?

Jane
Member

Jon Swerens — that is the most concise and spot-on summary I have seen of what the real point is here. If Phillips’ brand of creating an untouchable leader-figure is in some way the culprit here, “patriarchy” is not the name for that, nor is that in any way a necessary ancillary feature of “patriarchy.”

Rebecca Prewett
Guest

“Terri, no, ‘bombastic ass’ is not actually possible. I just double checked my WordPress settings, and they are clearly set two notches below that.” I’m reminded of why, when they were still children, my sons rejected a particular resource purporting to teach logic in favor of another. “We want to learn real logic,” they said, and they considered Canon Press, because of its affiliation with Douglas Wilson, to be a dubious resource at best. They had read enough from him to be familiar with this oft-used tactic of his: when one can’t, or won’t, engage with the substance of an… Read more »

Rebecca Prewett
Guest

For some reason, my browser did not recognize my attempt to indicate the end of my italics. I only meant to emphasize “real logic”.

valerieab
Member

Rebecca, Doug wasn’t engaging with an argument, but with an insult.

Rebecca Prewett
Guest

Silly me, you’re right, Valerie. I should not expect the sort of mature response that would overlook the insult and engage the argument. After all, we’re talking about Douglas Wilson here — what would make me hold him to the same standard I’ve come to expect from the men in my family and fellowship? My apologies. Chalk it up to forgetfulness and idealism.

Rebecca Prewett
Guest

Besides, I didn’t realize Mr. Wilson was so thin-skinned. I thought he liked being called names. Or is it calling other people names? It’s late and I’m tired…

Jane
Member

Rebecca, he engaged arguments all over the place. This was an insult. He chose not to engage with it, but display it for what it was. As for engaging the argument, the arguments he has been consistently making are right here, on this very page you’re looking at now.

You’ve made yourself clear, you don’t think his manner of engagement is appropriate. Is calling him a little boy your idea of more constructive engagement, then?