Thinking thoughtfully about Doug Phillips’ resignation, part four ~ danger markers along the patriarchy path

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We love going to a local chili supper fundraiser for a group of volunteer firefighters. Because it is held at their station that is along a busy highway, days before the event, they line the road with bright orange warning barrels so people coming to the supper as well as those passing through their small town will slow down, pay attention, and avoid danger. Remembering a traffic tragedy at one of their suppers a few years back reminds them how important this is and everyone is grateful for their diligence.

This week I have been considering just a few of those things I believe should serve as warning markers, the cumbersome orange warning barrels along the patriarchy highway, that will keep families from danger. Here is my list of questions and observations; please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.

How do they use the Bible? Creating unusual if not weird interpretations of Scripture and turning Old Testament narratives into commands, camping out on the more difficult passages of Scripture that centuries of Bible scholars disagree on but magically they understand, these are all part and parcel of this movement. The entire stay-at-home-daughters movement is based on Numbers 30! I still don’t get that one.  Ask them to explain why men are priests of the home when 1 Peter 2:9 says we are all priests and kings. Remember the Golden Rules of interpreting Scripture: The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. AND, context, context, context! Warning: Danger.

Do you see hypocrisy? Do the rules apply to everyone or just their minions? Do they set themselves up as arbiters of truth and discernment but rain down fire and brimstone on anyone who even dares to question them? Does their behavior contradict their teachings? Do they have strident rules for everyone but then not apply them in their own homes? Do they present information in such a way as to dissemble truth, only telling you what they want you to hear, knowing if they reported the whole teaching or story, you would believe something entirely different? A number of years ago two different women reported that their pastor and his wife instructed their entire congregation to never tell anyone that they had been divorced and remarried, leaving them feeling they were part of some cover-up they didn’t understand. I call this the “Rahab Clause” as one pastor a few years back taught that God blessed Rahab’s lies so he will bless ours if it for the common good! Warning: Danger!

Do you see a lack of accountability or refusal to hold men accountable to their elders, denominations, and everyone else? Whether we want to believe it or not, there is an epidemic of good old boys clubs within patriarchal circles and creativity when it comes to allowing church leaders to “be restored.” Of course, true restoration and genuine repentance are the hoped for result. But I have seen too many times where people are placed back in to areas of responsibility making a mockery of the whole process. I still remember when a pastor in one of the most conservative churches in my area committed adultery with a woman he was counseling in his congregation. Though he had to step down for a while, during his time off, he was allowed to continue preaching as pulpit supply for other churches in his denomination! And some of the strongest voices for pontificating about the lack of church discipline are those who have ignored their own authorities and gone off to do their own thing. Warning: Danger!

What are the relationship dynamics? Is there a spirit of one anothering that permeates the entire group or is there an attitude of top down authority that goes beyond leadership? Do the fathers get up from talking with the men to help with little ones or change diapers? Does this group produce wimpy wives or even those who are as sweet as a little old magnolia blossom on the outside and mean as a junkyard dog on the inside?  How are children nurtured? With an iron fist or with a spirit of gentleness and grace? Do the older young men and women relate to each other normally or is it stiff and weird? How are elderly folks treated in these families? Is practicing the one anothers of Scripture ever mentioned? Do you see it in action? Or is there nothing but role playing? Warning: Danger!

Does there seem to be an obsession with modesty, moral purity, and sex? All the modestly dressed women in the world will not prevent men from lust. Neither will Debi Pearl’s perfect heavenly marriage, wearing only dresses, abstaining from television or movies, not allowing women to engage in conversations with men, warning young people to not become emotionally involved with someone prior to marriage and even asking young maidens to pledge sexual purity to their fathers.  (If I read one more salacious description of some couples “first kiss” I will scream. Go back and read Doug Phillips’ description of the “first kisses” has witnessed. So weird!) Do you hear about modesty frequently in your support group or women’s group? Does the pastor preach about sex often? Do you feel uncomfortable when he does? Does he use phrases that depict the act of sex in a violent way? And speaking of violence, what is the group’s position of spiritual, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse of women and children?  Don’t know? Warning: Danger!

Do the leaders surround themselves with impressionable young people? I am coming to see this as a major warning sign within the patriocentric groups. First of all, it certainly flies in the face of their teachings about parents being mentors and the importance of parental authority. While I absolutely agree that we want to see our children encouraged and discipled by godly men and women throughout all their lives, I believe God has given parents that important role in the lives of their young adult and adult children. Shipping them off to places for undefined “internships” and questionable “theological” training presents all sorts of new problems and ones we may not even know about until it is too late and damage has been done. What is wrong, for example, with parents who continue to send their young daughters to ATI headquarters when there continue to be reports of bizarre behavior? My guess is that this is far more widespread than we imagine throughout all these  groups and not only am I tossing out orange barrels, I am throwing red flags. Warning: Danger!

Do they promise a utopia in this world?  Whether it is Vision Forum’s grandiose 200 Year Plan or someone offering a health and wealth Gospel to the faithful, this world is not our home and our only hope for perfection is in heaven! I believe this is one of the cruelest and most deceptive aspects of the patriarchy movement. Yes, we are to be faithful stewards until the Lord returns and are not to think of our attempts to see the culture redeemed via evangelism as polishing brass on a sinking ship. But neither are we to calculate how God will bless us or America through having lots of children or homeschooling or getting the right guy in office. Anyone who paints this vision for you is wrong. Warning: Danger!

Are you being mocked for your concerns and questions regarding the Doug Phillips’ resignation? I don’t know why I am so stunned at the insults and name calling flying left and right at those who question these teachings and the still unanswered questions. If you are getting the heat for this, hang in there. This amazing video is for you. It explains the phenomenon of the whistle blower. It might not make you feel much better but it will certainly help you understand why people don’t appreciate your warnings!

 

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I know my list is not exhaustive but please add your thoughts and testimonies to the comments.

More help for discerning false teachers.

Excellent advice from Sallie on becoming a Berean. Share this one far and wide!!!

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Comments

  1. Kris says

    These are great points! I definitely enjoyed Sallie’s blog on wisdom and discernment. Definitely wise wisdom!

    I remember sharing some issues with someone on the FIC church one time, she wasn’t very open (her family was looking for a church at the time) and she really didn’t talk to me much after that, was a little aloof. Haven’t really seen her since. I’ve talked with some home school moms and they hold to some of the patriarchy items. It’s difficult to keep quiet in a group situation. Sometimes better to speak in private or pray that God will change the heart as only He can! There are many men in homes that provide for their family as God wants them to and deeply want the best and who don’t hold to the patriarchy movement at all!

  2. ruth says

    Karen – thank you for the series of articles this week. You are doing an excellent job of analyzing this madness. I take no joy in seeing a man fall or family hurt, but I am glad that perhaps the folly of all of this will become a little more evident by this revelation of the relationship. The more I think of it, the more it hit me…….really….it’s all about the MEN. PRIDE…what my family looks like to others, what I want my family to do for me…how my daughter is to serve me….it’s really LITTLE KINGDOMS of ME! That’s what they want! How about putting yourself on the back burner and looking out for what the Lord wants? Pride goes before a fall, and when you do fall you yourself asked to be put in the limelight for many years, so now you get to see the negative side of that!

  3. Kate says

    I am afraid you have gone a bit overboard in your assessment of this situation. I really have enjoyed your blog and have learned a lot but this one didn’t seem to teach and instruct as much as it seemed to rip another family of Christians apart. Instead of discerning through, it felt as though you were wanting revenge on this group of believers. I’m afraid the things that you are accusing them of, you might want to check your heart because the same sin is seeping through your evaluation of them in the way you write. I understand there are a lot of problems in their theology, but it never works for us to point out other peoples sin in a way that punishes them and destroys them. As I have been reading through your posts, I have found myself thinking “this woman sounds as though Doug had an affair against her” You sound spiteful, sister. I’m all for us admonishing each other and helping each other see the errors in our thinking…but you seemed to make this a personal attack. A lot of what you have said has also been exaggerated which you use to make your points instead of stating what is really true-that is slanderous. I would encourage you to be careful with the way you judge, should you also be judged. There is a need for us to be careful with this paticular theology, as to any theology. We are sinful! We all try to create our own religion out of our understanding of the Bible. No one is above this…not even you, my friend. Jesus asks us to balance grace and truth when confronting other believers. These paticular posts have lacked both. I understand that you are wanting to bring attention to some of the dangers of this theology. Please, sister… We are all in this together and we need to help each other not stomp on those that are dying.

  4. Jerzy says

    Karen,

    I wonder if these people who accuse you of being spiteful would be willing to say the same words to Doug.

    “Doug,

    I’m afraid you’ve gone a bit overboard in your assessment of the situation. I really have enjoyed your blog and have learned a lot but this one didn’t seem to teach or instruct as much as it seemed to rip other families of Christians apart. Instead of discerning through, it felt as though you were wanting revenge on a group of believers. I’m afraid the things that you are accusing them of, you might want to check your heart because the same sin is seeping through your evaluation of them in the way you write. I understand there are a lot of problems in their theology, but it never works for us to point out other peoples’ sin in a way that punishes them and destroys them. As I have been reading through your posts, I have found myself thinking “this man sounds as though non-patriocentrists have it out for him.” You sound spiteful, brother. I’m all for us admonishing each other and helping each other see the errors in our thinking…but you seemed to make this a personal attack. A lot of what you have said has also been exaggerated which you use to make your points instead of stating what is really true-that is slanderous. I would encourage you to be careful with the way you judge, should you also be judged. There is a need for us to be careful with this particular theology, as to any theology. We are sinful! We all try to create our own religion out of our understanding of the Bible. No one is above this…not even you, my friend. Jesus asks us to balance grace and truth when confronting other believers. These particular posts have lacked both. I understand that you are wanting to bring attention to some of the dangers of certain theologies. Please, brother… We are all in this together and we need to help each other not stomp on those that are dying.”

    I know it’s hard to paddle against this current, Karen. Thank you for doing it. And you’re not overboard, you’re not ripping other families of Christians apart, you’re not seeking revenge on a group of believers, you’re not spiteful, you’re not personally attacking, you’re not exaggerating or slanderous, you’re not erroneously judging, you’re not “above” anything, you’re not lacking in grace or truth. And you’re not stomping on anyone dying.

    And THAT’S the truth.

    I wonder why those so quick to defend patriocentrism never offer examples of their accusations, nor do they offer suggestions of how calling out false teachers should be done.

    On another note, can you or other readers recommend resources to teach kids how to engage in conflict? As the introvert’s introvert, I’m terrible at it, so I’d like to learn how to do it, too, without hating myself afterwards! 🙂

  5. Jerzy says

    ” . . . nor do they offer suggestions of how calling out false teachers should be done.”

    Other than “in love”.

    I wonder if Jesus was speaking “in love” when He called the Pharisees snakes?

  6. Kate says

    I had a hard time deciding to make a comment knowing that I was setting myself up for misunderstanding. I do not appreciate that you are making assumptions on what little I could communicate. This is part of the problem! My hearts intent was not to tear down Karen or her message of encouraging other people to discern through false teaching… I myself do not defend patriocentrism. I was not claiming to do so, because I do see errors in it. I have a problem when we start attacking the people instead of the theology. I think I have proven my point with the way you have attacked me when you know nothing about me. You hurt other believers and discourage them when you judge without truth and grace (I didn’t say ‘in love’ I said in grace and truth) Jesus managed to do both-even with the Pharasees! He left those who rejected Him and would not repent but sure loved those who accepted His grace and truth. You only hurt those who are searching for truth when you come across so arrogantly and insensitively. I think its possible to stand for truth, confront people in sin AND not belittle them in the process.

  7. Susan T says

    Jerzy and all,
    The TED talk that Karen posted above about whistleblowers contains *excellent* training on “constructive conflict” begining at about the 7 minute mark.
    Another way to gently engage is to ask “the 4 deadly questions” and listen carefully…
    1) What do you mean by that? – and really listen & keep asking this to clarify what are the other person’s terms/definitons.
    2) How do you know that is true? Person must further clarify where they are coming from
    3) Where do you get your information? causes the other person to declare their sources
    4) What happens if you are wrong?

  8. Pressing On says

    Yes, a friend of mine helped me immensely in my understanding of the dangers of patriarchy by noting that it is inherently a weak system. Where there is no give-and-take and freedom to disagree, there will be more errors. Having two people with difference backgrounds and viewpoints (male and female especially!) is very healthy when it comes to decision-making as long as there is respect and compromise on both sides. That is expressed very well in the TED lecture.

    My friend also noted that couples who work out the division of responsibility among themselves with some areas of overlap do better than those who stick only to rigid “approved” approaches. Think of the father who refuses to help with baby care, and what happens when the wife has to have surgery. Or the wife that finds herself frozen with fear when her husband dies because she has zero understanding of their finances.

    For example, for the first year of our marriage, we did the finances together. We had to understand and meld our viewpoints on that. Then my husband suggested that I take over because I had already fallen into the role of bill-payer and knew more about insurance, taxes, etc. And I still do that, but I periodically also sit down and show him the bills and discuss any issues related to our finances. If either of us was out of the picture, the other would do fine. Some in the patriarchy camp would be of course horrified at a woman running the family finances, but I’m the more detail-oriented person, and it works well for us. I always let my husband know of major changes or issues to be discussed. We’re a team, after all!

  9. ruth says

    It struck me – the irony – that Doug now finds himself to be the target of criticism. Perhaps Karen and others are now evaluating HIM. He has had little mercy for other believers who disagree with him on many issues. He shows little grace to those who do not homeschool, who believe their daughters can go to college, who may limit their family size, or who believe women should be able to vote. What goes around comes around. How does it feel, Doug, to be evaluated and found wanting?

  10. Jerzy says

    Kate,

    Since you didn’t call anyone out by name, I’ll assume your second response was to me.

    “I do not appreciate that you are making assumptions on what little I could communicate.”

    We have to make assumptions based on what people write. It’s the nature of the medium. In this case, I only made one, and it was reasonable – that you were defending patriocentrism. Since you stated in your second response that you were not, I stand corrected.

    “My heart’s intent was not to tear down Karen. . . “

    Using words like “spiteful”, “revenge”, “slanderous”, “exaggerated”, “stomp on those that are dying” does not reflect that intent.

    “. . . you attacked me when you know nothing about me.”

    I did not attack you. I made some statements and posed some questions.

    “(I didn’t say ‘in love’, I said in grace and truth)”

    That comment was a generalized statement about a common, Christian response, not directed at you specifically.

    “Jesus managed to do both – even with the Pharasees!”

    Jesus calls false teachers snakes and it’s called “grace and truth”. Karen does the same and it’s called spiteful, slanderous, and judging. There’s a bit of inconsistency here.

    “. . . when you come across so arrogantly and insensitively.”

    Some would call what you label arrogant and insensitive assertive and direct.

    I’ve addressed your concerns. Now could you address mine?

    Would you confront Doug or any false teacher with the same words, or intent, that you directed at Karen?

    Can you give examples of where you think Karen has gone overboard, where you think she’s seeking revenge? How is she punishing and destroying Doug? (Seems like he’s doing that pretty well on his own.) How has Karen exaggerated? Slinging these words around without giving examples doesn’t lend your response credibility.

    And once again, what would you consider an acceptable way of identifying false teachers? Is there a way you would have done it that’s different from the way Karen did it?

  11. Nellie says

    There have been some Phillips supporters, like Doug Wilson, who seem not as supportive as when the story broke. Recall his blog post where criticicizers were called “enemies of God”? I think that’s what he said. It’s now strangely missing, so I can’t reference it. Why did he delete his post?
    Was Wilson convicted about his mean-spirited comment or is there a reason to distance himself now?

    Why did Phillips step down as elder at BCA in February under the radar? Why then the resignation at VF ministries 9 months later? Why the complete shuttering now (latest development) of the ministry? There wasn’t someone qualified to take it over? Why did the Board mention “sins” as opposed to “sin”?

    Are these questions inappropriate or nosy? Given that VF still peddles their wares in the “business” side, I think these are valid questions. Is this a business people should be supporting? There is also the possibility of Phillips later remaking and rebranding himself. People need to examine whether or not this leader has been forthright.

    No glee here. Just someone who thinks there’s still much to sort out.

  12. Steph says

    I have appreciated your blogs. I have waivered back and forth wanting to follow after men and organizations in hopes that my own children would not have sin struggles and life difficulties that I have had. But I have also been through much inductive Bible study (as well as Bible college) and SO OFTEN red flags went up. My husband, to his credit, has never wanted to follow these men. He has appreciated some of what they have had to say (usually along the lines related to history and government), but has always felt concern over their methods, legalism and frankly there insistence on serious separation from the world to the point of ineffectiveness. I am thankful that we have not made any of these men our guru. May God have mercy on this family.

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