Voting For Republicans is an Excommunicable Offense
(Start with chapter one, if you are new here.)
Knowing that I was at a loss as to how to biblically respond to Mark by this point, a friend had loaned me a book about submission and how it relates to wives who are abused, either emotionally or physically. Ironically, the foundation of the book was the story of Abigail and Nabal when David and his men wanted food. The book clearly exposited, verse by verse, how Abigail was still a submissive wife to a very angry husband. It was ironic to me because about one year earlier, Doug Phillips had preached on that very passage. In our ladies’ meeting after the service, I had asked if we should emulate Abigail’s behavior if we ever found ourselves in a similar situation. Beall Phillips immediately responded that this was a non-normative situation and that Abigail was not being submissive.
Greatly encouraged by this book, however, I shared it with Kathleen at church that Sunday after the second meeting with Doug Phillips, since Kathleen worked for Vision Forum and often counseled women with abusive husbands. In the course of the conversation, Kathleen stated that we were so blessed at Boerne Christian Assembly because if we ever had problems like that, Doug Phillips would help us. I didn’t know how to respond to that. I couldn’t agree with her because I knew it wasn’t true. Yet, I didn’t really want to tell her what was going on either, since I was forbidden to talk about Mark with anyone (other than Beall, who refused to speak to me anyway). Sensing my hesitation, she kept pushing for an answer. Thinking that someone finally cared, I eventually told her a bit of my situation, explaining that Doug Phillips refused to help us even when our lives were in danger. After listening for a while, she informed me that she was going to talk to Doug Phillips. I thought that she meant she was going to ask him to help, and pleaded with her not to talk to Beall about it. However, Kathleen told both Doug and Beall Phillips about it, not in a way that was helpful to me, but rather accusing me of gossip.
The next day, I received an email from Doug Phillips accusing me of broad sins again such as being unwilling to be under authority or counsel (requesting not to have Beall present in the meeting), to repent for sinful attitudes and spreading of untruthful gossip (Kathleen). I had asked repeatedly at that second meeting: “What exactly have I done? How can I change if I don’t know what my sins are?” I was accused again of being unsubmissive, disrespectful, and unloving. These seemed to be catch-all terms Doug Phillips often used in dealing with women. Then I was told that I was building a public case against my husband, when all I was doing was practically screaming for someone to help us!
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mark was working behind the scenes with Doug and Beall Phillips to discipline me. Now their plans included three mandatory counseling sessions at Vision Forum, two hours each, with Beall Phillips and Reba Short, the two women who had already made it known to me that problems in the marriage were almost always the woman’s fault. They were going to help me work on the sin issues in my life in regard to my marriage. Beall Phillips had not spoken to me for two years, so I knew she didn’t know anything about me personally. Reba Short came over to my house nearly every Friday, but I don’t recall ever talking to her about our marriage, except for that one hour phone call, in which she attempted to get me to take all the blame.
Not trusting the motives of these two ladies, I asked if I could bring a friend. Beall Phillips replied to my request that “the terms of the meeting are not subject to debate. If you are formally refusing to follow the direction of the church leadership, then I will communicate that to them and they will take appropriate action.” I agreed to meet on their terms.
Nothing was done regarding Mark after that second meeting.
At the first counseling session with Beall Phillips and Reba, Doug Phillips had written a memo of understanding that Beall read aloud to me first, outlining why I was in breach of the covenant of the church for talking to Kathleen. The second document I was given was called:
Ways to Make My Husband Successful
Ways to Demonstrate a Submissive Heart
Ways to Bless My Husband
I was not told at the time that these fourteen items were mandatory, but rather I thought they were suggestions for how to be a submissive wife. Nevertheless, I took them home and read them aloud to my children, asking them to please evaluate me honestly in light of each of the fourteen items. I asked them to tell me whether or not I did each of those things on the list and to give me specific examples of how I was either submissive or unsubmissive according to this list. I did not have the conviction that women couldn’t speak to men about theology, and told Beall Phillips and Reba Short this in the first counseling session. Other than that, my children both agreed that I already did everything on that list anyway, to a degree. Although it was not clear to me at the first counseling session, by the third session I was told that it was mandatory that I completed them exactly. Nevertheless, I had fulfilled them in what I considered to be the spirit of the matter, including not talking to men about theology for the duration of the three counseling sessions.
Another issue that came up in the first counseling session was the doctrine of the total depravity of man. It soon became apparent that Beall Phillips and I did not agree on this point. In talking about sin in the marriage, Beall Phillips kept insisting that I must be sinning rather constantly. I explained to her that I believed in verses where Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” I don’t believe that Jesus would have told us to do something He didn’t expect us to do or that was impossible to do. I found this pattern to be consistent all throughout Scripture. These verses impacted my life greatly and I tried to obey the Lord daily, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Beall Phillips, on the other hand, said she believed that we couldn’t help but sin, and that she sins at least every 30 minutes, or more, in her own marriage. This was quite confusing to me, as I couldn’t understand why we were bothering with marriage counseling then, if we couldn’t help but sin all the time anyway. In fact, why we were bothering raising our children in certain ways if they couldn’t help but sin anyway. This defeatist attitude about life made me feel real sorry for Beall Phillips. I cannot imagine going through life as a Christian, thinking that I am doomed to sin every few minutes, whether I want to or not. What is the point of salvation then? Eternal security? We left that counseling session with me volunteering to go home and study this in the Scriptures.
I spent about 20 hours that week studying certain words and seeing what the whole Bible said about this subject. I also studied what Boerne Christian Assembly’s statement of faith said about it, and finally I looked at a commentary by Matthew Henry that I know Doug Phillips uses as well. I discovered that Beall Phillips seemed to be basing her beliefs on Romans 7, so I looked extensively at Romans 6 and 8 as well, to put it in context. While Romans 7 explains our fallen nature, Romans 6 and 8 give us hope as Christians, clearly showing that we are no longer slaves to sin, having victory through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Excited, I went to the second counseling session eager to share several hundred verses on this topic, and firm in my convictions that we no longer have to sin as Christians, with the power of the Holy Spirit, although we are still fully capable of choosing to sin. After listening to several verses on the topic, when I came to Romans 6 and 8, Beall Phillips absolutely refused to listen to me, stating that I was preaching a new doctrine of “sinless perfection.” At no time did I ever claim that I had never sinned or that I was perfect.
Beall Phillips then began to question when was the last time I had sinned in my marriage. In the last 24 hours? 48 hours? Week? Month? I only answered that I didn’t remember sinning recently in my marriage, with the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. While I do still sin, I emphasized that I do not have a pattern of sin in my marriage.
After the first counseling session, Beall Phillips wrote me a summary email of her perspective of how it went. It was filled with many exaggerations or total falsehoods and was quite harsh. Here is an excerpt of that email:
“You said that this new belief in sinlessness might change. I pray that it does. If it does, will you still emphatically assert that you have not sinned recently in your marriage and that you did not sin in the meeting with the men last week? You must realize the implications of the beliefs you espouse. If your doctrine changes, will you start to sin again? Will you then realize that you did sin during the time you held to this doctrine of perfectionism? Or will you have stopped sinning only while you held to this doctrine?”
By the third counseling session, I was getting tired of being treated like dirt, so I read the verse in Galatians to Beall Phillips that says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” I asked her how I could respond cheerfully when she was constantly backing me into a corner. She softened up for a few minutes, but still continued to insist that I was preaching “sinless perfectionism.” I tried to explain that I had to walk on eggshells in my marriage anyway and that I would do almost anything not to invite more anger, that I tried very hard not to sin in my marriage or in life. We were at an impasse by the end of the third counseling session.
The next day, October 29, 2004, I read on Doug Phillips’ blog about a voting scenario that he had written about candidates A and B in the land of Baal, actually inviting his readers to respond, which he normally doesn’t request. He also had a voting debate going on between Dr. Ken Gentry and William Einwechter. These two articles were designed to show that voting for either Kerry or Bush was a sin for a Christian. Since this was just days before the Presidential election, and since I was growing tired of hearing from the pulpit each Sunday how we needed to vote for Peroutka, the Constitutional Party candidate, I was glad for a chance to respond. Since Doug Phillips sometimes points out logical fallacies of other Christians, I took this opportunity to carefully point out seven logical fallacies in Doug’s little voting scenario as well. While I was at it, I responded to Bill Einwechter’s article on why we should vote for Peroutka as well. Not wanting to embarrass Doug Phillips by sending it to his personal assistant, I sent it privately to Doug’s own email instead, with my husband’s full blessing. This did not go over real well, starting with Beall Phillips immediately sending me an email in which she said, “I purposed to bring to your attention those areas of continual sin about which we have appealed to you.” She then listed my five sins in writing this letter: Doug did not give me permission to write to him (?); I had been formally directed not to rebuke or instruct men (not true); I had a mean spirit; I was rebuking my elder; I have a hard heart. The email was so harsh and critical toward me that I simply asked her to refrain from contacting me any further unless she had something kind to say. I also stated, “I sincerely hope that the people in our church do not have to agree with the “elder’s” position in politics; if so, we are no longer a church, but a cult.”
Two days later, we went to church. In the three counseling sessions, Beall Phillips kept stressing that I had sinned by gossiping about Doug in my conversation with Kathleen. Although I hadn’t considered it gossip, I was willing to apologize anyway. Doug Phillips is hard to get hold of, so this particular Sunday was the first time I had seen him since I spoke with Kathleen. I wanted to take care of the situation before church, but Doug Phillips arrived late, so I went up to him when he came in and asked if I could speak to him before we took communion, as was our practice at Boerne Christian Assembly. He did not want to talk, but I insisted, so we went outside. I apologized for gossiping about him and asked his forgiveness. Doug Phillips wanted to know if I was going to apologize for writing the voting paper as well. I explained that I didn’t see that I had sinned in doing so, so I didn’t see anything to apologize for. He then said that he would not forgive me for gossiping either and, glaring at me, said, “You’re going to pay for this.”
After we went back inside, Doug Phillips began to preach. His two hour sermon that day was to read my voting paper, refuting it point by point. Although Doug Phillips and I did not see eye to eye on voting ethics, his main concern seemed to be that a woman in his congregation had written him this paper. I looked on his blog and could not find anything that said women couldn’t respond or that Boerne Christian Assembly women couldn’t respond, but Doug Phillips made it clear that if Mark had written that paper instead of me, it would have been all right.
Two months later, Doug Phillips decided to preach about me again, although I was home sick that day. Doug Phillips began talking about an unsubmissive woman in the church who was under church discipline (if I was, I didn’t know about it) and her repentant husband. My daughter, Natasha, then 17, was so frustrated by the lies emanating from the pulpit, that she got up and left in the middle of the sermon. When she told me about it afterward, I wrote Doug Phillips and asked him if he was preaching about me, knowing full well he was. Doug Phillips replied, “The Bible says that if any woman has a question about the preaching of the Word she is to ask her husband at home.” Doug Phillips then stated that he had already talked to Mark about this, but Mark denies talking about this subject with Doug.
Wanting to hear this message, I asked for a copy of that day’s sermon and I was told that everyone at Boerne Christian Assembly would receive it in the mail. While this was odd, I waited, but it never came. I called and asked for it several times, but although it was promised, I was never given a copy of that tape.
I was soon to find out just what “being under discipline” meant.
December 16, 2006 at 8:33 am
They certainly sound like a bunch of Job’s comforters. Especially with the implication that you must be sinning, and this ridiculous charge of being in denial about it because you believe in sinless perfection.
December 16, 2006 at 10:13 am
It really bothers me when, rather than proclaiming the Word (preaching in season and out of season) they would rather specifically attack other people during a “sermon”. I know a family personally that were the victims of this. It is ugly. It is ungodly.
December 16, 2006 at 11:00 am
Rebecca, I have seen this very thing happen against a woman who had committed sin, but was starting to come to our church. I listened to thinly veiled innuendo against her from the pulpit. Her specific sins were mentioned, with no assurance of grace or forgiveness for them, even though these sins happened after she had been diagnosed with a mental disorder requiring medication to help keep her in balance, and she was out on her own with little family support.
I started speaking to others about this pastor, and found out that he did this kind of thing not infrequently. It is not only ugly and ungodly, it is the coward’s way out.
December 16, 2006 at 11:44 am
As your sister in Christ, I am most grateful to know you have been freed.
I’ve been wondering what draws people (myself included) to [these types of] church scenarios. Have you examined your willingness to stay in such a “church”? I know that I never want to again, and would welcome any insight regarding what goes into staying in such situations. Better yet, I hope to know when to hold ’em, fold’em, when to walk away,and when to run!
I rejoice in seeing that your marriage has not only survived, but appears to be flourishing. Our God is good. Have a restful Sabbath, dear sister. God bless you and your family with His abundant peace and healing.
December 16, 2006 at 11:52 am
Our Lord said, ..”seventy times seven.”
December 16, 2006 at 9:03 pm
Freed by His Blood, I’ve been thinking about why people like you and me stay at churches like this. I think I started attending because we were so like-minded. I enjoy being with people who like the same things, who live a similar lifestyle, who have similar beliefs, and I still don’t see anything wrong with that. But BCA really changed after the two other elders left and there was only one elder. Since no one was left to hold Doug Phillips accountable, changes started happening quickly. By that time, we were committed. We are not church hoppers and believe that we should not leave a church unless God clearly directs. There were no other churches that offered what we were looking for, we had signed a “covenant” and felt obligated to keep it, and there were many wonderful things about Boerne Christian Assembly. I wish we could have just taken the good and found help when we needed it.
I know that there are different circumstances in your situation, however, and we each have to evaluate our church in light of God’s Word. Too many people run when the going gets tough at church, though. I still recommend doing all that you can to work through the problems first. Leaving a church without trying to work them through just leaves the problems to magnify and grow, causing an eventual eruption down the line for someone else. I know that it takes lots of extra effort to work through these situations, but no one ever said Christianity or relationships were a piece of cake. The churches and relationships that are really worth their while are the ones that have a lot of work poured into them.
If I had it to do all over again, I would still do all that I could to make it work. I’m not a quitter.
December 17, 2006 at 12:36 am
I don’t believe that you are repentant, or submissive to your husband.
December 18, 2006 at 12:15 pm
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I understand what it means to be deeply-committed and to feel part of something edifying. Our leaving was the very last thing we even considered doing, as this was our ‘church for life.’ Ironically, we stayed, despite the increasing problems, in order to show our support and to keep the vows of membership.
By God’s grace, we are now free and are being healed. For us, it has become clear that “The Church” had superseded Christ, insofar as our sense of service and submission. We sleep well knowing we have done everything possible. We are grateful to be here now.
I never want to repeat the past experience, which is what prompted the questions I posted. I realize that there is much to be learned from our wholehearted participation in an extremely warped version of Christianity. I’ve been questioning what my actual sins were/are in said scenario. I have repented of allowing honoring and loving God to take a backseat to honoring and serving men who claim to be His shepherds. I have repented of violating my own conscience, as well.
Since our devastating departure, it has been lovely to be reminded of Christ’s love and sufficiency in all matters. We have come to trust Him again and seek to serve Him wherever He places us.
God bless you, dear sister. It is a pleasure to share this journey with you.
June 2, 2007 at 8:54 pm
I love the sermons preached against me. What are more funny are the little interludes of sermons preached in the middle of unrelated sermons. Makes you wonder how many people are listening, especially when the preacher goes out of your way to include things that seem out of place. For those listening, do they get confused at all?
June 2, 2007 at 11:07 pm
I don’t. I can pick this sort of thing up right away. It is a huge warning sign to me. I just posted about this very thing on another thread. I think most people don’t get it. People who use the pulpit like this disqualify themselves. They do not possess true spiritual authority because they abuse their position.
June 3, 2007 at 5:58 am
Cindy and Corriejo,
This is EXACTLY what Phillips did in December 2004. He preached an entire sermon against Jennifer, while Jen was home sick. Not only did it upset Natasha, she walked out on Phillips. Doug was furious and confronted me about Natasha’s actions. In retrospect, I wish I had congratulated Natasha. She had more sense than I that day.
July 8, 2007 at 9:09 am
We were temporarily in an abusive church situation. I suspect we have been accused of “church hopping.” (Anybody got a verse against that?) Truth is, we wanted nothing more than to find a sound church.
I think what draws one to legalistic churches is a lack of understanding of grace. Yes, we are saved by grace but WAY too often after giving lip-service to that, we move on to earning our own way. We call is obedience. But when we are looking to others to see that we are obeying and they are not…it is now pride, works, self-righteousness and condemnation. But, since the church is often SO silent about the true meaning/depth of God’s grace, we are left to our own legalism. We figure out the rules for ourselves and everybody else. We desire a leader who will tell us the rules. Therewe are comfortable and we seek others who are like-minded. Just like the Pharisees. Exactly. 😛 It is sin and we are pathetic without the clear understanding of the Freedom of Grace!!!
When we began to realize something was wrong at our abusive church, one book gave us insight and the courage to walk out. The books was “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse,” by VanVonderen. He describes characteristics of spiritual abuse both in the leader and government. He also gives counsel in getting out. We followed that advice and left without ever saying a word to anyone to explain. If people are deluded only the Grace of God can reach them. If God calls another out of such a group and they were to have questions, we would answer them. But, had we tried to explain, it would have only given ammunition to this abusive pastor to “sneak” us into sermons in thinly veiled ways. We had such distrust of this man and his “following” that we realized he could do permanent harm to our reputation. He did try. When an abusive pastor loses people, it’s a loss of control. That might influence others and the little Hitler might lose power. Such “infidels” must be dealt with in a crushing manner.
Having been delivered out of the wrong doctrine of Gothard by God’s Grace, perhaps we were quicker to recognize wrong “vibes” and seek help in Van Vonderen’s book. (Kind of like ex-smokers!) For us, it’s Grace-based church or none.
Another source of help to me has been Reb Bradley’s articles linking legalism with rebellion in our children. Open, vulnerable and hard-hitting articles.
July 8, 2007 at 10:47 am
Wendy: “For us, it’s Grace-based church or none.”
Maybe that should be my new motto, too, Wendy. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I hope that you are healed from that experience as well.
June 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm
[…] another man, or one of her sons, even if that son is too young to take the Lord’s supper himself.Mr. Phillips’ treatment of women is degrading and demeaning, and he does not treat them as fellow heirs of Christ Jesus. […]
June 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm
I just found your website.Please dont think me presumptuos because of my age,but God speaks through a preacher to the people.Instead of taking offence,if you are in the wrong,repent,if you are in the right,forgive,and realise that it may not ever have been meant the way you took it.Personally,from reading your articles on Doug Phillips,I believe you have blown things way out ofproportion and made a big issue of nothing,and secondly that it is wrong to put your private quarrels on the web where anyone can see them.If you truly forgave him then remove your articles and apologise for any damage done.As for his treatment of woman,nothing that you have said could be further from the truth,Man is the head of the woman,and that naturally means he takes leadership.Also,Doug promotes “woman and children first”and certainly I believe that he is right.
Having said all this,neither ofyou are right on the voting issue.May I please point out that God is going to have His way no matter what your vote and as citizens of a higher country it is not our right to become involved in the political side of earthly kingdoms.The bible says we are toobey our rulers,andpray for them,such is the christians duty.
Humbly in Christ
December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am
Jen’s words about Doug are not puffed up with emotion nor do they include name calling or hyperbole. The tone she uses is neutral and basic – I think she is simply describing her experiences how they happened. If Doug really did do the things she has written, then these articles need to stay online as a warning to those who might get involved with him. A pastor who is spiteful towards dissenters, turns his back on abuse victims and insists that his congregation does what he says or else (i.e. obey wifely submission rules or be minorly excommunicated), should raise enormous red flags for anyone steeped in real Scriptural teachings, real knowledge of Jesus and the real love of God. I’m not saying that Doug doesn’t have these three things. However Paul instructs Christians to be known by their love. Doug’s actions mentioned above do not display love in any way. I can not make a sound judgement on him because I don’t know him, but from what I’ve read from Jen and other authors, I am suspicious of his character and doubtful that he is being led by the Spirit.
By the way, if you are being blamed for your husband’s abuse, it is not “nothing”. If you are being publicly disgraced because of disagreement or ‘stepping out of line’, it is not “nothing”. And while God may well speak through pastors, sometimes pastors will speak without the green light from God.
October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am
Jen, I want to thank you for your analysis of the sinful condition of those who are saved via Romans 6 -8. I was raised in a (homeschooling) home where total depravity was the philosophy, although I didn’t hear those words until I was an adult, and naturally the churches that I attended as a child and that felt normal to me as an adult had the same rigid theology.
Recently, I’ve been in a “what’s the point?!” rut. If I can’t help but sin and am a worthless worm regardless of my salvation then why NOT sin so that grace may abound. It has never occurred to me how crucial context is, and I am encouraged to try and look at the Bible through new eyes, discarding the teachings that warped my understanding of who God is, and hopefully gaining a better understanding of who he REALLY is.
I am sorry that you had to suffer through such a lengthy and oppressive church/home situation for so long, but your story is still encouraging and helping others. Thank you for sharing it!
October 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm
I cannot comprehend the hypocrisy and cruelty coming out of that church….but neither can I comprehend two intelligent people staying and exposing themselves and their children to such horrific abuse for so many years…at the beginning of your story you talked about your despair at finding the ‘perfect’ church (there is no such thing) and begging to be accepted at a church that rejected people like it was an elite country club? May I ask how you and your husband found Christ and who discipled you, if anyone, and do you think that had an affect on your willingness to endure such vicious abuse? I guess more generally my question is how do intelligent people get sucked into cults?
October 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm
JenMartinTX, our thinking at the time was that the closeness of relationships that we had developed, closer than any family ties we had ever experienced, trumped all.
While we are free from that bondage now, I long for community. We are made for relationships.
December 6, 2013 at 1:35 am
[…] voting Republican was an excommunicatable offense. In response to Jen’s letter Doug snarled, “You’ll pay for this!” She was excommunicated by Doug’s Star Chamber proceedings absent any due process. The church […]
December 12, 2013 at 5:17 am
[…] does this have to do with Vision Forum? Not a whole lot, admittedly. I was remembering old debates on whether it was a sin to vote for anyone besides Peroutka. Attacking the Republican party is easy and fun and something we should all do. But there are […]
December 12, 2013 at 8:40 am
Excerpt from article: “Since Doug Phillips sometimes points out logical fallacies of other Christians, I took this opportunity to carefully point out seven logical fallacies in Doug’s little voting scenario as well. While I was at it, I responded to Bill Einwechter’s article on why we should vote for Peroutka as well. Not wanting to embarrass Doug Phillips by sending it to his personal assistant, I sent it privately to Doug’s own email instead, with my husband’s full blessing. This did not go over real well, starting with Beall Phillips immediately sending me an email in which she said, “I purposed to bring to your attention those areas of continual sin about which we have appealed to you.” She then listed my five sins in writing this letter: Doug did not give me permission to write to him (?); I had been formally directed not to rebuke or instruct men (not true); I had a mean spirit; I was rebuking my elder; I have a hard heart. The email was so harsh and critical toward me that I simply asked her to refrain from contacting me any further unless she had something kind to say. I also stated, “I sincerely hope that the people in our church do not have to agree with the “elder’s” position in politics; if so, we are no longer a church, but a cult.’”
While I was not part of Vision Forum (thank God!) I was part of the Constitution Party and have been promoting Christian Reconstruction for 12 years. Due to Jen’s experience with Doug Phillips, VF and the assembly in Texas, I’ve been re-evaluating my promotion of Christian Reconstruction and have found that due to questioning some beliefs and practices on social media, I’m being chastised by others and treated as though I no longer exist. Amazing!
December 12, 2013 at 11:00 am
Angela, I am sorry to hear that. What I found when I reconsidered various positions in my own life, whether I was forced to or I did so out of my own studies, was that while I lost many old friends, I also gained many new friends as well. I pray that you will gain many new friends during this time. We’re glad you’re here!
December 12, 2013 at 11:07 am
Hey, I’m glad too! 🙂