Last week’s resignation and confession of having engaged in an “inappropriately romantic and affectionate relationship with a woman” by Vision Forum founder and president, Doug Phillips, should have been more stunning than it was to the homeschooling community. Though a few sycophants have labeled him their “fallen hero,” many have pronounced it a long time coming; others observed that these are the expected fruits when there is little to no accountability. Was I surprised at Phillips’ confession? Not exactly. I have an email folder full of similar stories of unfaithfulness and abuse perpetrated by “godly men” who have followed patriocentrists over the cliff to family destruction.
In the past few years, as more and more people have been exposed to Phillips’ “Biblical patriarchy” and its companion family integrated church movement, I have been amazed at the acceptance of their extremes in the evangelical community and the unwillingness to call out these teachings as legalistic,extrabiblical, and even dangerous. They have done and continue to do damage to the entire body of Christ in spite of the “ such a lovely family” window dressings and whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Maybe this will serve as a wake up call for those who have yet to experience the fruits of these abhorrent teachings.
I do not know what to make of Phillips’ letter of resignation and certainly cannot assess its sincerity or truthfulness. What does “lengthy” mean? 6 months? 1 year? 6 years? There is a world of difference between a romantic attraction and a long-term relationship. For some reason it was important to tell us that he didn’t “know the woman in the biblical sense” yet in his world, emotional impurity, ie, having a crush on someone, requires confession and repentance and has given many parents grounds to declare their children to be rebellious. And why did he resign only from Vision Forum Ministries and his speaking engagements while maintaining his role in the business side of his operation? Why is he still listed as an elder on his church’s website? These are legitimate questions and those who ask them should not be condemned for doing so. He has established himself as a public figure in the homeschooling community; it is too late to scream for a right to privacy. In the end, even though its ripple affect has been felt all across the homeschooling community, there are only two people who know and can define this infidelity and, hopefully, they are willing to receive and follow genuine godly counsel as well as church discipline. Scripture tells us it is not true admonishment unless the goal is restoration, the means is gentleness, and the fruit is bearing another’s burden (Galatians 6:1-2), so we must pray for those things to happen. We must pray for his wife and children and for a marriage and family to be restored. And we cannot forget to pray for healing for the woman Phillips has been involved with. (more on this in part two)
But desiring these good outcomes does not negate the need to remind others of the dangers within the patriarchy paradigm. If anything, it is past time to challenge the church to clearly examine the teachings within the patriarchy, family integrated church, and militant fecundity movements and warn each other of their dangers. Being remorseful for sin is useless unless one also repents of the root sins (beliefs) that preceded it. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 makes the appropriate observation: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”
Look at the teachings that have come out of patriocentricity, especially in the last 6 or so years. Teaching that men are the prophets, priests, and kings of their homes, daughters are helpmeets to their fathers, women are here primarily to fulfill the creation mandate and are expendable if threatened with ectopic pregnancies, women do not have their own callings from the Lord but rather are to fulfill a man’s calling, and a strident hierarchy that hearkens back to the antebellum south, these are just the tip of the ice berg. They certainly reveal a heart attitude toward women that can lead to unfaithfulness to a wife and broken dreams for a younger woman taken as a mistress, emotional or physical. Though many are spinning it otherwise what has been taught and promoted by the patriarchs absolutely does matter and absolutely can lead to adultery! “As a man thinks in His heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) Any “clearing of yourself” must include repentance for these and many other wrong interpretations of Scripture that have lead to the destruction of countless families who bought into the Vision Forum paradigm. Until we hear these as part of any confession, restoration cannot take place.
Since I have spent a lot of time already discussing the problems within the patriarchy movement on this blog(use the search feature for related articles), let me particularly encourage you to pass along these links for further study for those who are coming late to the party. Be prepared to help other homeschooling families who will be looking at these things with more discernment and wisdom in the days to come.
Excellent article by homeschool dad and attorney Tim Swanson: