Thinking thoughtfully about Doug Phillips’ resignation, part three ~ not every man


I had noticed them on other Sundays, sitting toward the back: attentive husband, impeccably dressed wife, both calmly waiting for the service to begin while everyone around them hurried to take their seats once the music began. But it wasn’t until this past week that I realized why they were special. Seated in my row, I could hear the wife struggling to breath and caught a glimpse of the man as he pulled a fresh clean washcloth from a bag and gently wiped her face. Suffering from some residual affects of an illness or accident, she had come to worship, raising her hands and singing as the man lovingly placed his arm around her, supporting and encouraging his bride. My heart was instantly touched by the tenderness they shared and I felt the tears coming. “This,” I thought, “is a faithful man.”

My guess is that he has never heard of Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson or the Bayly brothers. To him, a patriarch is named Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

During the 27 or so years that we have experienced the patriarchy movement, some of them up close and painfully personal, a picture was painted for us of what genuine godly manhood must be. I remember Clay’s face when he came home from his maiden voyage into patriarchy waters. The seminar was called Beards, Babies, and Bowel Movements, the latter two highly recommended and the former only allowed for Amish attendees. (You can’t make this stuff up.) Being the prophet, priest, and king of the home is a tough job but somebody has to do it. And someone has to charge you for the privilege of knowing how to do it.  Here is the checklist….for free:

The father is the only one who should teach older sons; he should not be employed but rather be or working toward becoming an entrepreneur so as not to build another man’s kingdom. He will give his sons land and remind them that they are part of his clan.

Though his wife might be knowledgeable of Scripture, he alone is to lead family Bible study and all spiritual or doctrinal questions are to be asked only of him. (I kind of liked this one on days when someone asked me things like “what IS a concubine” or “what’s with all those foreskins?”)

He is to direct all the education of children and prepare sons for the day when they will lead families of their own by helping them establish their own businesses. He trains his daughter for the day when she will be handed over to another man by making sure she is his junior “helpmeet” and understands that she has only one role and that is to fulfill her man’s calling from God. He orchestrates her courtship and betrothal, guaranteeing her physical and emotional purity in the process. He must be certain that his children are not rebellious because rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and the only way to avoid it is by the frequent and daily use of the rod.

He protects his wife from “false” teachings by limiting what she can read or hear or who she can have for friends because she is more easily deceived by Satan and might unwittingly wander into a website like Titus Two  He oversees the childbirth process, from start to finish, recognizing that his wife might die because “Biblical” principles might dictate such. His household must be in order, children all lined up, happy, and spit-shined when he comes home from work and his wife, possibly in pearls, available for hospitality, educating younger children, and sex whenever he demands it.

His home, rust-free 14 passenger van, and all household goods are paid for with cash. Any personal interests, recreation, and hobbies, especially video games, are the devil’s tools because idle hands are the devil’s play place and a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands (even for a Sunday afternoon nap because Sunday afternoons are for fellowship with other manly men at your FIC) will bring his family to poverty.

To make sure he remembers all of these things, a man will attend seminars, conferences (some of them requiring costumes and tights), and weekly men’s meetings where he will ponder over R. C. Sproul Jr. basement tapes or will read Rushdooney and devise ways to fulfill some other man’s 200 Year Plan. He will listen to Kevin Swanson radio while cleaning his gun and grow a beard, Bill Gothard not withstanding.

But now, even after all this, one of the most repeated mantras I am hearing in response to Doug Phillips’ resignation is this: “Judge not lest ye shall be judged…any of us could fall the same way at any time. If it happened to Doug Phillips, it can happen to any man.”

There is even more fear and pressure to perform when in reality I think most men, yes, most men, are faithful men!

Sure, they have temptations and struggle from time to time, probably mostly when their wives continually talk about modesty and point out all the things that aren’t modest.  And we all know the reason men become uncontrollable, sex crazed monsters is because of immodestly dressed women because passionate, patriarchal wives have told us so.

But I do not for a minute believe all men are on the brink of having an emotional or sexual relationship with other women.

And here is why. Because real men anticipate the dangers and if they entertain thoughts of adultery don’t teach seminars and carry on about the evils of homosexuality while thinking nothing of engaging in a long term romantic relationship with a another woman. Because they love their wives and children and sacrifice everything for them in real life ways without pretending they are on the Titanic. Because they purpose to walk with the Lord and seek to live lives of balance in the real world, putting real measures of accountability into place, first of all with their own wives. Because they are busy just trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, find affordable health care, and put braces on their kids’ crooked teeth. Because they have wives who are true partners, sojourners beside them in spiritual battle, and their sisters in Christ who openly share their opinions and stretch marks one day at a time.

I have long been concerned that patriarchy’s model for godly manhood has become a poor substitute for real men who know that being faithful in the small things is the measure God uses for greatness. I hope and pray this is a wake-up call for those men still entrapped in this movement and their wives who are enabling if not promoting this madness.


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  1. says

    For the record, though I am sad I have to state this, I do believe that marriage is only for one man and one woman and that practicing homosexual behavior is a sin.

  2. Kathy says

    Agreed, Karen. That’s what I was thinking of. An awful lot of kind, decent hard-working men — for instance my own husband, my own father, my own brother, my own son, do not stumble like this and would not. I mean, I’m sure they’ve experienced an attraction to another woman but to move from “I feel attracted” to action is a choice they do not make, and would not make. And I think humility and being busy serving their families is one reason.

    I know I’m probably deep in “confirmation bias” with this observation, but it seems that the more loudly someone proclaims patriarchy or that their marriage is built on a model of wifely submission, the more likely there are serious issues in that marriage (whether abuse, or addiction, or faithlessness), which all the rules in the world will not suppress forever.

  3. says

    Real men are not on the brink of having an affair because they view women as human beings; as a person who breathes, feels, bleeds, and lives. Real men don’t have a view of women as sexual objects. Since real men view women as a human being, they are able to establish friendships with them and work beside them.

  4. Nellie says

    One male issue I ponder concerning these man-made systems is men and the financial support of their families.

    Because of all the “rules” there is yet another layer of hypocrisy I see in all this beyond the obvious moral failure.

    Phillips and his like tell men and their families they must “trust God” in having as many babies as physically possible. This results in children born in some tough circumstances. What if Dad has been unemployed for a long time? What if the family is on food stamps and really struggling? What if there is disability and the day to day with just two kids is very hard? According to Phillips, you don’t think about things and continue to march on with militant fecundity.

    Many of us use circumstances to help guide our decisions on what the Lord would have us to do. I had one person sensibly tell me that when my resources are tapped, I will take that as a divine sign that my “quiver is full”. Such is not the case with the patriocentrists.

    The hypocrisy I’m seeing is that we are told that this has been a heart felt, deep repentance but yet, if it is, why is Doug retaining leadership in the business aspect of Vision Forum? If people in patriarchy are to take such risks financially with families and add children in dire straights and “trust the Lord” why doesn’t Doug resign and “trust the Lord” with how to support his family?

    I realize one could argue that he may not be required to resign from his business dealings, but I think this is a grey area that teeters toward “black” given that this is a faith based business that is definitely selling a lifestyle and way of life. If one wanted to handle this completely above reproach, then why no step down from the business too? If the families he has presched at for years can make it on nothing, why isn’t that good enough for Doug?

    I have no desire to see the man and his family suffer financially. However, he chose a public life making some very hardline stances on the way people ought to do things. The business part of the ministry is hard to separate from these teachings. Again, this is an issue of what’s good for others apparently is not good for him.

  5. says

    Okay, Karen, don’t tar and feather me!

    Re: the Basement Tapes…We had a bunch of them and I have to say I really did like the format. There were a few (titles escape me now) that we enjoyed. It’s too bad someone doesn’t do something like that again, but without all the baggage and boulders. I enjoyed listening to them discussing different topics in a relaxed way.There was quite a bit of dry humor as well which David and I both enjoy.

    (Running for cover…)

  6. Don says

    Real men are comfortable enough with their masculinity that they feel in no way obligated to advertise it or prop it up with unbecoming behavior …

  7. Mike says

    Doug’s sin is out there for everyone to see. I’m glad mine isn’t. As Christians, do we really ever reach a level here on earth where we are without sin? Sin is terrible, with terrible effects, don’t get me wrong. And it is sad when people who teach fall from the pedestals that they’re on. What is the take-away?

  8. Bye says

    “For the record, though I am sad I have to state this, I do believe that marriage is only for one man and one woman and that practicing homosexual behavior is a sin.”

    That’s disappointing. Deleting my bookmark to this site. I thought you believed in equality and fairness. But I guess that’s just for heterosexuals.

    You write that it’s wrong for men to oppress and control women’s sexuality, lives and legal affairs. But it’s okay for heterosexuals to oppress and control gay people’s sexuality, lives and legal affairs? A man shouldn’t be able to control who his daughter marries– but any heterosexual Christian should be able to control who any homosexual person marries?

    You want equality for women, since that will get YOU a seat at the table, but apparently other people left out in the cold can stay there.

  9. says

    Hannah, I remember when that Challies piece was first published and any number of people, including a few wives of patriocentricity jumped on it to prove that someone like me is wrong to question teachers publicly. It appears to be happening again this week but here is what troubles me. Who decides which person or group gets to be the ones who question teachings or teachers? The arrogance boggles the mind.

  10. says

    Mike, here is what I hope to be the take away from my blog:

    Homeschooling families MUST become Bereans and recognize false teachers beginning with the patriarchy/patriocentricity movement. They need to pay attention to the core beliefs that prop it up. This isn’t about one man and his personal sin. It is about a movement that has had tremendous influence on evangelicalism in general and homeschoolers in particular and people need to understand exactly what that means at the core.

  11. TulipGirl says

    I can’t help but think of Matthew 11:28-30:

    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  12. says

    I almost spit coffee at my screen at the dangers of the P31Lesbo website. Ha! That’s funny. I have friends who are no allowed to do womens meetings, homeschool support meetings, read books, attend church with others, etc, for fear that they would be led astray. Huh? How far is a woman going to be led astray at a Starbucks talking about laundry with tired homeschool moms? But now I know. Thanks. 😉

  13. says

    Sadly, Angie that came off the 2009 Homeschool Leadership Summit presentation by Doug Phillips. He actually used the word lesbian to describe women bloggers who disagree with patriarchy! Truth is stranger than fiction!

  14. Jessica Farrish says

    Karen, I wish I had “known” you in 2007, when I first encountered these teachings. Great work at unravelling all of the confusing and stupid things that come out of this movement under the guise of “the Bible.” Thank you.

  15. Lori Johnson says

    Mike asks “What is the take away?” An excellent question. I’m not a homeschooling Mom, and I wouldn’t even call myself a Christian, though I do live by the law of Moses and follow the Messiah as my example. Given that, what I see as the take away is that someone with as much intelligence as Mr. Phillips should spend a season laying everything on the table, every last bit of what he believes, and examine it afresh. He believes some things that are not demonstrated truths as they appear in either Hebrew or Greek. It is a dangerous edifice, the one built on translation. So, as His mercies are made new every morning, and because great is His faithfulness, it should not be a frightening thing to a man’s soul to admit that he is fundamentally and woefully wrong, and to seek to build on solid ground. That would be a good “take away.”

  16. julie says

    “Real men”? Ladies, please read your bibles. Yes real men could stumble. Even today. You are naïve, extremely naïve if you think that it could not happen. The scriptures clearly tell us otherwise. See for example, 2 Samuel 11; Matthew 5:28; 2 Peter 2:14; Galatians 5:19
    someone wrote:
    “Real men are not on the brink of having an affair because they view women as human beings; as a person who breathes, feels, bleeds, and lives. Real men don’t have a view of women as sexual objects. Since real men view women as a human being, they are able to establish friendships with them and work beside them.”

    I think you must mean “men in heaven”, rather than “real men”? Because the picture you have painted has come from a romantic book or movie and not by truth. You have listened to and believed lies. Real men can and do lust. And real men do act on that lust when given opportunity. Do not be naïve but be sober and believe your bible, not the romance novels. Men are men. They do not think like women and they do not act like women. We women mistakenly think that men think like we do. They do not. A woman dresses fashionably (in this day that means she reveals flesh) and if a man looks at her, she thinks he is admiring her fashion sense. I can assure you that is not what he is thinking! Women have their own particular set of sins and temptations and so do men. Women naively think that men think like they do. They do not, I repeat, they do not think like we do. They are not caricatures, but real flesh and blood human beings with sins, faults, failures and weaknesses. BTW, a man believe a woman thinks like he does. So when he sees a woman dressed in a revealing manner he thinks she is out to seduce men. And he is all too willing. Do not be naïve, ladies!

  17. says

    Reading this and astonished anew (if that’s even possible with all I’ve read) that people thought any of this was for “good.” Particularly the role of the father and the “junior helpmeet.” Creepy term, creepy idea.

  18. Colleen G says

    Honestly my first thought, and the take away lesson here, is that is what you get when you base your walk with God on the outward flesh and not the inward relationship with the Holy Spirit.
    Sorry to the other commenter- Real men can be around less than modest women without jumping into an affair. Why? Because real men are not slaves to their raging animal instincts. Can a real man still fall? Yes but not completely because of the women in his environment but because of his own issues. Immodestly dressed women are not the sole cause of sexual sins. It takes two people to go down that path.


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