Speculation is running rampant right now regarding Doug Phillips’ recent admission of a lengthy, inappropriate relationship resulting in “serious sin” with another woman. Doug Phillips claims that he behaved without proper accountability, but how much do we really need someone else to hold our hands to keep us from “serious sin” in life? Is Doug Phillips really going to place the blame for his “serious sin” upon the shoulders of dozens and dozens of men who do hold him accountable each and every day of his life? In his statement of repentance, does he truly take responsibility or is this yet another deflection?
Let’s take a look at Doug’s daily life and see how this could possibly happen. Is it possible that the lifestyle and rules of patriarchy itself are exactly why Doug Phillips found himself on a slippery slope from which there was no return? Does patriarchy in fact encourage this kind of temptation? I believe it does and it did, in Doug Phillips’ case.
First, let’s go to work with Doug Phillips. Vision Forum’s offices and warehouse are located smack in the middle of San Antonio, TX. The men who are employed there all hold to Doug Phillips’ strict views and rules of patriarchy. Any women who work at Vision Forum come to work with their husbands, fathers, or brothers. There are no unrelated women working there. There are a dozen or so men surrounding Doug and his office at any given moment. To reach Doug’s office, one must pass by several other men’s offices. It is practically impossible for any inappropriate relationship to take place at Vision Forum, and knowing Doug Phillips’ extremely high standards against sexual sin, this simply wouldn’t not happen at the office.
Doug Phillips attends dozens of homeschool conferences, and hosts many fabulous homeschool events put on by Vision Forum. His family attends nearly event with him, and if his whole family does not go, at least some of his children are always with him at these events. Doug Phillips is also always surrounded by his Vision Forum interns and staff at each and every one of these events and conferences. I cannot for the life of me envision Doug looking at another woman while attending these events, and he is never left alone, so I think we can cross this off our list as well.
How about doing errands around town? Not likely and not often. Doug Phillips would have absolutely zero interest in the “worldly” woman, so I do not believe that would ever happen.
Counseling? Doug Phillips was always very careful never to counsel a woman alone. I am sure that he continued that rule.
So where does that leave us? I can think of only one situation and it is not only plausible but also nearly inevitable in many patriarchal families. Patriarchy itself lends itself to this situation. Large families require a huge amount of work. Many mothers within patriarchy are worn to a frazzle and if they can afford it, they seek extra help. There are many types of help available but the most prevalent type is to hire a nanny, another young lady within the patriarchy movement who holds all the ideals of patriarchy, but is patiently waiting to get married, so she “serves” her father by serving another man and his family, taking care of his children.
In “The Return of the Daughters,” a young lady states that she cannot serve in her father’s business so she serves God and her father by serving others in the community (“community” is a codeword for those who belong to Doug Phillips’ church). The way that she serves the “community” is to be a nanny for Doug Phillips’ eight children. She is not the only nanny that the Phillips family has employed over the years, but she was featured in this documentary.
Let’s look at the type of “nanny” the Phillips family would employ.
Obeys her parents, even as an adult
Obeys her elders (at church)
Courtship only (no dating or relationships with men)
Gentle, quiet spirit
Has no opinions in her own right
Does not go to college
Good with children
Cooks and cleans
Now, this is not your typical 13-year-old babysitter. This nanny is often a full-time position for a young woman in her late teens or twenties. This young woman, who most certainly has natural hormones for this age, has no outlet for relationships with men. This young woman, under the encouragement of her father, idolizes Doug Phillips. This young woman is the epitome of everything Doug Phillips preaches. She is the standard that all other young patriarchal ladies wish to aspire to. And this young woman does so with the full blessing of her father.
And she spends most of her time with the Phillips family. She is there while Doug is at work. She is often there when Doug is at home. She will even spend the night there sometimes. She is there when the family travels to homeschool conferences and Vision Forum events, where Doug has the opportunity to watch her perform her duties in a fashion that makes Doug Phillips very proud. She even goes on family vacations with the Phillips, occasionally, to help with the tremendous amount of work of taking care of eight children. She is like a second mother to the Phillips’ children.
Is it any wonder that she also becomes like a second wife to Doug Phillips as well? Here is this young woman, in her twenties, beautiful inside and outside, blindly obedient to everything she is told to do, never questioning, and absolutely idolizing this man in his forties. If this young woman spends several years practically living with the Phillips’ family, are we really so surprised that a lengthy, inappropropriate relationship develops between these two that eventually leads to serious sin?
Patriarchy itself, with all its rules and legalism, is such a heavy burden on a large family that they absolutely do need extra help. The kind of help that leads to such a slippery slope, however, goes against everything Doug Phillips preaches. Perhaps we need to go back to square one and decide if this was such a good idea.
I do not blame Doug. I do not blame this woman. I am not saying that I know who the woman is, but if anyone knows anything different from what I have presented here, I will retract my thoughts.
This is not about needing more accountability in life. Doug Phillips has more men to keep him accountable than does the president of the United States. This is not about needing more rules in life. Rules do not change our heart. This is about having a change of heart. This is about coming to realize that keeping a long list of rules just doesn’t work. No one can perfectly keep a long list of rules and God does not intend for us to do so.
In the Bible, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the “patriarchs.” Look at what happened to Abraham when Sarah’s household help was called upon to help progenate Abraham’s descendants. Look at what happened when Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel, couldn’t get along and asked their household help to help progenate their families as well. Perhaps, in the true sense of patriarchy, this is just a natural extension of patriarchy.
Or, perhaps, we need to reevaluate the value of patriarchy to begin with.