Doug Phillips’ Mentor and Spiritual Father Speaks Out

Negative comments appeared here recently regarding Doug Phillips’ “spiritual father” Pastor Robert Gifford. In response we received word from Pastor Gifford, via one of his daughters and one of his church members, that Pastor Gifford is in no way pleased to be portrayed by Doug Phillips as his spiritual father, and that he is in no way responsible for teaching Doug Phillips Dominionism, Patriarchy, Family Integrated Church, home school elitism, etc. According to these commenters Pastor Gifford has for years been openly confronting Doug Phillips for his unbiblical and extra-biblical positions.

I was subsequently asked to interview Pastor Gifford for this article. Interspersed in this article are direct quotes from my interview with Pastor Robert Gifford, including this statement which explains his motivation for giving me the interview:

“I grieve over the way Doug Phillips has misrepresented me. But that doesn’t bother me the most. God will vindicate me. What bothers me the most is how Doug has defamed the testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It breaks my heart the way he’s discredited and maligned the Word of God. He twisted the Word of God for his own advantage. I also grieve that so many people have been harmed by Doug’s teachings that I think it’s necessary for me to speak out. Doug has a dual personality. He’s been leading a secret life. It’s like the movie Catch Me If You Can.”

Doug Phillips has often made mention of Pastor Robert Gifford, crediting him as his “spiritual father and mentor.” He has done so numerous times from the podium at various venues, as well as in print:

“When I was a young man, my spiritual father, mentor, and pastor gave me a copy of John Gill. He told me it was the most trustworthy and foundational commentary in print. He explained to me that my hero Charles Spurgeon had feasted on John Gill’s writings when he was a young man. Nearly twenty-five years later, I want to once again publicly thank Pastor Robert Gifford for introducing me to the great John Gill who has remained my constant companion in my life.”  2007 Vision Forum Catalog, pg. 38

“It was during those days that two men helped transform my boyhood dreams into the vision of a man. One was my father, and the other was my pastor, Robert Gifford. Both men gave me many books which fueled my interest in the story of Creation and even the quest for dinosaurs. They practiced discipleship and communicated a Creationist message of dominion.” 2003 Vision Forum Catalog, pg. 2

Robert Gifford taught Doug and Brad Phillips, both as their church pastor, and beginning in their 8th and 7th grades, respectively, when they were students at Fairfax Christian School in Vienna, Virginia. FCS is a prestigious school that has attracted many Washington politicians, local celebrities and famous athletes who have sent their children there for a Christian education. Five FCS parents have run for President of the United States, including Howard Phillips.

When Doug and Brad first began attending FCS, “They were deep into Roman Catholicism. Doug also believed in theistic evolution.” Through the influence of Robert Gifford they turned from Roman Catholic evolutionists to make professions of faith in Christ and becoming creationists.

“As a young man, Doug was also discipled by Robert Gifford, a great preacher of the Word and pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, who communicated to Doug a passion for Christian apologetics and the sovereignty of God.” Vision Forum Ministries, About the President

I asked Pastor Gifford, “Why do you think that Doug has so often claimed you as having been such a significant influence in his life, right along side his natural father, crediting you as his spiritual father and mentor?”

“I think that I most definitely influenced him in regard to the fundamentals of the faith. I taught him biblical doctrine. I taught him in school and at church. But I also taught him one on one, in my home. I taught him the doctrines of grace. I taught him soteriology. I taught him creationism. So I taught him the fundamentals in his early age, I was influential in that. Secondly, my family had a big influence on him. He was over at my house a lot. He saw the way my family operated and he liked that. I have seven kids and my family had a big impact on him. I think Doug is sincere about my influence, but I also think he’s being dishonest about some of it too. I think part of why he uses my name is to establish credibility within the evangelical world. Look at me. I’m under a spiritual father. I think it’s also his way of trying to cover up, camouflage, some of the aberrant doctrines that he has.”

Doctrinally, Pastor Gifford is and always has been an evangelical Baptist. He is Dispensational and Premillennial. This demonstrates how highly the Phillips family has always respected him because doctrinally Howard Phillips, after converting from Judaism, became a Reformed Covenantalist, Postmillennial, Reconstructionist, Theonomist and Dominionist, and his sons Doug and Brad later followed after their father in doctrine. Though Doug and Pastor Gifford are at opposite ends of the theological spectrum, in all these years Doug Phillips has always spoken with great fondness of Pastor Robert Gifford.

The Phillips family became members of Pastor Gifford’s church, Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Woodbridge, VA (not affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries). Pastor Gifford was a significant influence in teaching the Phillips family the doctrines of grace, both from the pulpit, and in the Christian school.

Doug Phillips would go on to graduate high school at FCS and then attend the College of William and Mary. It was while Doug was at William and Mary that Pastor Gifford started noticing troubling changes in Doug, and Pastor Gifford often addressed his concerns with Doug.

Doug then attended George Mason School of Law. While in law school he married Elizabeth Beall Dewey. Pastor Gifford performed the wedding ceremony.

Perhaps one of the reasons Doug Phillips has admired Pastor Gifford is because he has been so direct with Doug. According to Pastor Gifford he warned Doug Phillips many times about problems that he saw developing in Doug’s life, both in the doctrines he began to embrace as a young man, as well as his immense pride.

On Patriarchy:

If anyone deserves credit for indoctrinating Doug Phillips in Patriarchy, home school-only elitism, and family integrated church it would be John Thompson. Among other things Thompson is the founding director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. While Doug Phillips was a staff attorney at Home School Legal Defense Association, he invited Pastor Gifford to his home to introduce him to John Thompson:

“I was supposedly Doug’s spiritual father, but he invited this man, John Thompson, to come and instruct me about marriage and family. Doug knew I’d been teaching what the Word has to say about marriage and family for years. I had over a hundred messages I’d given on marriage and family. Doug orchestrated this whole evening so that Thompson could indoctrinate me in Patriarchy. We sat around the table while everyone listened  to this man lecture me. After he got done Doug had us all move into the living room where the men all sat down on the couches. My wife sat next to me; but I noticed all the other women stood behind their husbands, including Beall. It was very strange. They just stood there the whole time behind their husbands. I thought we were going to have a nice conversation. But it wasn’t a conversation, and it was very uncomfortable. This guy Thompson took over and started asking me questions. The last thing he asked me was, ‘If you were in a grocery store and your children started to act rebellious, how would you respond?’ So I said, ‘I don’t go shopping. My wife shops. Honey, what would you do?’ So my wife starts to answer and this Thompson guy cuts her off and says, ‘Excuse me! I’m speaking to the men!’ At this point I really had to hold myself back. Doug just sat there the whole time and said nothing. It was obvious that Doug set this whole thing up. At this point we got up and left.”

“When Doug left Virginia to move to San Antonio to start Vision Forum, I warned him to stay away from John Thompson and Patriarchy. I told him ‘It’s a tyrannical way to lead the family. It’s not biblical’.”

“I think men like Doug get into Patriarchy because they’re weak insecure men. So they gather a bunch of other men around them to figure out how to make their wives do what they want. They don’t know how to lead their wives. All they know how to do is force them. A man is supposed to lead his wife lovingly, sacrificially. unreservedly. It’s clear from Ephesians 5. The Bible calls the wife a ‘helpmeet’. What that means is that she’s a counselor. She’s supposed to give counsel to her husband, and the husband is supposed to listen to her. I’ve taught this for years. We men have blind spots. We need godly women to give us counsel. She’s a counterbalance to us.”

On Family Integrated Church:

“Doug was going around behind my back in my church telling people that Sunday school was evil. I confronted him about it and he lied and said he hadn’t. But I confronted him with the fact that ten families had come to me and told me he’d told them that Sunday school was sin. He told me, ‘I never said that. You’re misrepresenting me’. Doug was very divisive of the church. Several families left because of him, but I was able to prevent a church split. But that’s only because I put a stop to what he was trying to do behind my back. I kept catching him doing dishonest things like that where I’d confront him for something and he’d lie about it. It happened four times in a row.”

On Women Working Outside the Home:

“It’s not a sin for a woman to work outside the home. In fact there are times where it may be necessary for a woman to work outside the home to show her love for her husband and to complement him. This idea that a woman has to remain within the four walls of the home is nowhere found in Scripture.”

On Dominionism and Quiverfull:

vfcatalog2007cover“Doug has misrepresented me in the worst sense. He’s made me out to be a Dominionist. He’s put it in print. He’s said it many times. It’s libel. Dominionism is completely contrary to everything I taught. I think that much of Doug’s views of Dominionism came from the Shepherding movement. There’s a lot of similarities. He also teaches the same thing the Muslims teach which is you take over the world by having lots of babies. You establish an army through your children. It’s important to understand this. If you look at Doug through all his advertisements, the Vision Forum, he’s got his kids on the covers dressed in armor. This is what they’re doing. They’re forming armies through their families. I’m just the absolute opposite of all that.”

On Home Schooling Elitism:

“Doug and his brother Brad came to my home and told me, ‘Pastor Gifford, we believe that the qualifications for membership in the church are wrong. We believe that only home schoolers should be members of the church’. I told them, ‘Do you realize what kind of elitist attitude you have? Do you realize what you’re doing? This is totally anti-biblical. This is the problem that the early Jewish converts had when they thought only they could be members of the church and the Gentiles had to be excluded. What you have is an elitist mentality, and it’s going to turn into a cult if you’re not careful’. It was over that issue that Doug left my church and moved to Texas to start Vision Forum and his own church.”

On Moving to San Antonio To Start Vision Forum:

” ‘Doug, you’ve got a lot of natural talents and pride. Prideful men who rely on natural talents don’t depend like they should on the Holy Spirit. If you get prideful you also won’t rely on God’s Word to lead you. Pride goes before a fall, and that’s what concerns me. You’ve got to be very careful that you don’t do this in the flesh. You need to learn wisdom from above rather than the wisdom that comes from the world. You need to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you. I’m concerned that in your pride you’ll just rely on your charisma and natural abilities’.”

” ‘Doug, don’t mix business with church. It always ends up that the business controls the church’.”

“I saw Doug’s abilities and charisma all along, and I always saw those more as a danger than a help. I told my wife that Doug was going to depend on his performance, and his charisma and his persona, more than on the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit.”

On Doug Phillips After He Started Vision Forum:

“Doug sent me some of his Vision Forum materials. I listened to them and was really disappointed. I called him and said, ‘Doug, where in any of this are you speaking of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ? All my teaching on the family always points people to Jesus Christ. You’re just teaching moralism. If we don’t lead our children to Jesus we fail. Moralism isn’t enough Doug. You’re de-emphasizing the gospel of salvation. You’re preaching moralism and Dominionism, not Jesus Christ’.”

“I’m not a Dominionist but even I can see that Doug’s militant form of Dominionism is extreme. I also confronted him about his Patriarchy. I pointed out to him that even the Dominionists weren’t teaching the kind of extreme Patriarchy that he does.”

Warning To Doug Phillips At Howard Phillips’ Funeral (May 2013):

“Doug, I’m really concerned for you. You’ve gotten far away from the Word of God by creating this Dominionist/Patriarchy/Family Integrated Church/Home School thing. You need to get back to the gospel of Jesus and stop being a moralist or everything you’ve done is going to fall. Point people to Jesus or your ministry will collapse.”

Pastor Gifford On Doug Phillips’ Infidelity

“All the these issues cause me great heartache, but nothing is so dreadful to me as Doug’s infidelity. In his pride Doug came to believe that he could live like a king with no accountability to anyone, even to God. The result is always immorality. Doug was taught in word and deed to live a pure and holy life that honored our triune God and His Word. He’s “turned from the holy commandment delivered unto him” (1 Thes 4:1-8) to a system of belief and practice that justifies immorality. May the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ quicken Doug and bring him to a place of true repentance and faith.”

______________

Robert Gifford is an elderly man who, of his own admission, isn’t computer literate. Pastor Gifford has reviewed and approved this article for posting. He’s informed me that he likely won’t be monitoring comments to this article or responding to questions here. However, his daughter Grace, has informed me that she likely will.

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Media Requests Regarding Doug Phillips and Vision Forum

There are several news media sources who are reporting on what is going on with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum right now.  I am getting multiple requests for more people who are willing to talk to the media.  You may use your name or be anonymous.  If you homeschooled your children or you were homeschooled, and you were impacted by patriarchy, and you are willing to discuss it with the media, or if you would like to tell your story here, please let me know.  If you were impacted by Doug Phillips and you would like to talk about it, please let me know.  I do NOT post anything here without permission first.  I have had many phone calls, personal conversations, and emails in the last couple weeks, but I do not ever break a confidence.

Please consider if sharing your thoughts would help the community of homeschoolers to bring healing to this situation right now.

You may use this form to directly contact me (this goes ONLY to me) or you may click on the email below my pic to the right.

Vision Forum: Closed

The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries

 

In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.

The Christian Post: “Christian Family Ministry Leader Doug Phillips Resigns After Admitting to ‘Inappropriate Relationship'”

The Christian Post weighs in:

The leader of a conservative Christian family organization has resigned from the non-profit after admitting to having an affair, however, he will still maintain ownership of the related for-profit company.

Doug Phillips, whose organization Vision Forum advocates for “Biblical patriarchy,” admitted to having committed a “serious sin” and claimed that he had confessed it his “wife and family, [his] local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.”

“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate,” wrote Phillips.

Despite the fact that Phillips asserted that he would no longer be “giving speeches or running conferences at this time of my life under the banner of VFI or VFM” and leading “a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier,” he also explained that he had not completely divorced himself from influence within the organization.

“I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc,” he wrote on the organization’s blog on November 6.

 

To read the rest of the article, which quotes one supporter and one ex-supporter, here is the rest of the article.

Why I am NOT Calling Doug Phillips to Repentance

For years, Doug Phillips called me to repentance.  He required that those in his congregation call me to repentance.  In fact, that was the only contact they were allowed to have with me, and still are.  For years, I asked what sin I had committed so that I could truly repent.  At the time, I wanted nothing more than to be restored to good fellowship, but no one was ever able to identify my sin.  Now, I am certainly far from perfect, but in this case, I had done nothing worthy of being excommunicated and shunned, and my kids certainly had done nothing worthy of their being excommunicated and shunned, simply because they were my children.  But, nonetheless, I have been called to repentance for years now.

Now the tables have turned, but now I am NOT going to call Doug Phillips to repentance.

Let me repeat that.  I am NOT calling Doug Phillips to repentance.

I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s look at repentance.  Ironically, Doug Phillips posted an article just a couple months ago, entitled “True Repentance.”  This was written by Doug Phillips himself on August 7, 2013.  If my memory serves me correctly, he has written this article before and this is probably an updated, edited version.  Nevertheless, the topic is still fresh in his mind.

Citing II Cor. 7:10, Doug Phillips goes on to compare worldly sorrow with godly sorrow.  Let’s observe Doug Phillips’ article on True Repentance alongside his Statement of Resignation.

Article: Too often “repentance” is the experience of offering a half-hearted and self-serving apology to God and man, mixed with large amounts of blame-shifting, pride, and a desire to be done with the whole matter so you don’t ever have to deal with it again. It is the “I have said I am sorry on my terms and in my way, and there is nothing more I need to do, so if that is not good enough for you, then you are the one in sin” attitude.

The Bible describes this attitude as “the sorrow of the world [which] produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). It is a false sorrow, a self-centered and self-serving sorrow. Evidences of worldly sorrow include fear of bad results, a sense of pressure caused by the consequences of sin, and embarrassment over “getting caught.” Worldly sorrow may result in partial repentance accompanied by the telling of half-truths and admission of just enough wrongdoing, and no more, than is necessary. Worldly sorrow is often accompanied by arrogance and pride, because, at the end of the day, the sinner does not believe his crimes are really that bad—at least, they are not as bad as the other guy’s crimes.

This is a sorrow that leaves injured parties worse off because they are expected to accept the apology of one who is at best “sorry” with qualifications and reservations, unwilling to make the injured party whole.

While Doug Phillips’ Statement of Resignation is not an official statement of repentance, am I the only one who detects many of the above characteristics of “worldly sorrow” in this statement?

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities. 

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate. 

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

In the True Repentance article, Doug Phillips goes on to describe godly sorrow.  The article is actually very good, and well worth reading in whole, but let me pull a few quotes from each section of Doug’s description of godly sorrow:

Brokenness:  Those who experience true brokenness over sin are overwhelmed by the enormity of their crime. … He is deeply grieved that he has injured his brother. He enters into the pain of those whom he has wronged, and his heart is full of compassion for them because of the trouble his sin has caused. A truly repentant man is therefore a humble man who thinks less of himself and more of those he has injured.

Forsaking Sin:  One of the clearest signs of worldly sorrow and false repentance is that, once caught, the sinner simply transfers his sin to another venue.

Truth Telling:  Those who experience godly sorrow and true repentance will therefore tell the whole truth. They will not play word games or withhold those facts which would make them look worse. 

Acceptance of Responsibility: True godly sorrow necessarily requires the sinner to take full responsibility for his actions.  If you have ever listened to a person “repent” by making excuses for their actions, shifting blame, accusing others in the process, or telling half-truths, you can be sure that this person does not have godly sorrow and, therefore, is not repentant. 

Restitution:  It is not enough that they will cease and desist from the wrongdoing. They will do whatever is necessary to heal those they have injured by restoring to them what they have taken. Godly sorrow produces such compassion for the injured party that the penitent man aches to bring health and wholeness to those he has injured.

Peace: The man who experiences a godly sorrow unto repentance desires to live at peace with those he has injured, and all the more so when sin has brought strife and division between fellow believers.  A sinner who grieves over his sin will go to great lengths to seek peace with those he has injured.

When we first get caught doing something harmful to others, our natural human response is, “I’m sorry I got caught.”  That is natural, normal, and just part of the process of being human.  That is what the Bible terms as “worldly sorrow.”  But “godly sorrow” leads to true repentance.  So how do we get from “worldly sorrow” to “godly sorrow?”  If we call someone to repentance, will they suddenly turn around and go in the other direction, which we often term as “repentance,” and then will they find “godly sorrow” when they turn their lives around?

Paul tells us just the opposite, that “godly sorrow” itself is what produces repentance.  Calling someone to repentance does not produce godly sorrow, but the godly sorrow will inevitably lead to a true repentance.

What is true repentance?  Is it just turning around and going in the opposite direction?  No, I don’t believe so.  That would be a natural result of repentance, but that is not repentance itself.  Repentance is simply a changed heart.  The only true change in our lives comes from a change deep in our hearts, when we allow God to simply love us.  When we come to understand how much God truly loves us, our hearts melt before Him.  When we come to realize that God loves us, no matter what “sin” we commit, our hearts are reshaped into love.  When we experience God’s unconditional love even in our own self-imposed conditions, we are broken in love.

Love explainedLet’s break this down a bit.  First, we do something that hurts someone else.  In this case, Doug Phillips’ relationship with this woman was over a very long period of time.  Then we get caught.  What is the natural, normal, human response to getting caught?  Worldly sorrow.  “I’m sorry I got caught.”  That appears to be the stage that Doug Phillips is currently in.  That is normal.  As Doug Phillips comes to realize that God is not angry with him, that God is not keeping a record of Doug’s wrongs, that God has already paid for all his sins, that God is not standing over him with a big hammer, that God is simply loving him like He always does, then, and only then, will Doug’s heart be broken enough to accept God’s love for him.  When Doug Phillips comes to know how much God truly does love him, when he realizes this deep inside himself even though he has preached it all his life, then, and only then, will Doug experience the depth of God’s love for him that will produce a change of heart.  When Doug Phillips begins to experience this amazing love of God, Doug’s heart will soften and melt before God and before man.  That melting heart will lead to godly sorrow, and that godly sorrow will lead to repentance.  That repentance will be a heart change, not just turning around and going in the opposite direction.

And that is why I do NOT call Doug Phillips to repentance.  The only way that Doug Phillips will experience true repentance is after he comes to know the full love of God toward him at this moment in time.  And so, I simply plead with Doug Phillips to allow God to love him.  There is no list of “repentance” to follow.  There is no one right way to make things right.  When there is a true heart change, we will know it.  When Doug Phillips experiences the love of God in a new and fresh way, it will be apparent to everyone who knows him.

No list.
No rules.
No checklist.
No call to repentance.

Just the love of God for each and every one of us who hurts others.

Theres-nothing-we-can-do-to-get-God-to-love-us-more-e1346773808176

How Patriarchy Itself is the Slippery Slope that Led Doug Phillips to Serious Sin With Another Woman

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.

Natasha Phillips GirlsDresses modestly (long, full dresses

Homeschooled

Obeys her parents, even as an adult

Obeys her elders (at church)

Courtship only (no dating or relationships with men)

Gentle, quiet spirit

Respectful

Resourceful

Has no opinions in her own right

Does not go to college

Good with children

Cooks and cleans

Loves God

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.

The Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum

When I first told my story about Doug Phillips, nearly seven years ago now, it caused a bit of a stir.  At the time, I felt like I had done nothing worthy of excommunication, I had exhausted all efforts to reconcile with both Doug Phillips and BCA, the church I was excommunicated from, and I had forgiven everyone in my heart of hearts.  The reason I went public with my story was because Doug Phillips was a very public leader in the homeschooling movement and was primarily responsible for the patriarchy movement.  This was not just a personal issue between Doug Phillips and me, this was a case of a very public leader who preached “Family First” everywhere he went, yet he totally destroyed and devastated my family.  I felt it was important to warn others that their number one leader in the movement was not really about putting family first (after God, of course).

Doug 4I was surprised, I suppose naively so, to begin to hear privately from person after person after person who told me stories of abuse by Doug Phillips and how he had threatened to harm their families, their career, and their church life if they did not keep quiet about what had taken place.  Any anecdote or story told within those circles was immediately put into the “gossip” category and was severely dealt with.  Legal means were often employed to keep people quiet.  I heard many stories of men “dressed in black,” carrying pieces (or so I was told), who used mafia-like techniques to make sure any and all stories involving Doug Phillips in any way other than idolizing him were decidedly dealt with, quickly and severely.

And so, when I was threatened with the same types of actions, as I realized how many people cowered in fear for their lives and their families’ lives, I stood up against such tyranny and abuse and fought for freedom from ecclesiastical terror.  Doug Phillips and his cohorts put up multiple websites about me, dedicated solely to attacking my family and me.  Many were outright lies; some were twisted truths, while others were simply about airing my personal “sins” for the whole world to see.  While that was not enough to stop me from telling my story about Doug Phillips truthfully and respectfully, it was enough to stop nearly everyone else from considering telling their stories publicly as well.  As I promised them all so many years ago, I will keep their secrets secret, but it was just all the more reason for me to proclaim to the world that Doug Phillips does not practice what he preaches.  And there is a time and a place to warn people against impending danger.

Statistics say that for every one person who writes a letter to the editor, or for every one person who writes a letter to a corporation, there are probably one hundred other people who feel the same way.  So, if a corporation gets one letter complaining about the taste of their peanut butter, for example, they may just blow it off and send them a voucher for a new jar of peanut butter.  But if they receive ten such letters in a short period of time, the peanut butter manufacturer will not think that ten people are complaining about their precious commodity, but rather that those ten are representative of one hundred people each, so that would be the equivalent of one thousand people probably feeling that same way.

I found those statistics to hold true for my blog.  For every one hundred readers, I had one comment, almost exactly.  It was eerily accurate.  But those were just the public comments.  I also received many, many private emails, especially that first year when I told my story.  In the first year my blog was up, I had over one million readers.  I also received approximately one thousand emails from people who were involved in patriarchy who had decided to leave the legalism and judgmentalism of patriarchy because of my blog.  If statistics hold true, and I do believe they do, that equates to about 100,000 families who decided to leave patriarchy because I told my story about the ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny of Doug Phillips.

If I could go back in history and be anyone I wanted to be, I have often dreamed of being Susan B. Anthony, because she freed women from the prisons of their lives then.  While it cost me nearly everything I had and nearly every friend in life, I believe God used me to be a modern-day Susan B. Anthony of sorts, leading women and their families out of the legalism and bondage of patriarchy.  And that made it all worth it.

Let me be clear that I am still strongly in favor of homeschooling.  I think that for a mother to be able to stay at home and raise her children and homeschool them is the best of all worlds for a child.  I believe that children should have two parents at home, that an intact family is a strong and healthy family.  I believe that husbands should love and cherish their wives, and wives should love and respect their husbands.  I believe that many, many of the things Doug Phillips taught in the patriarchy movement are good, valuable, honorable, necessary aspects of a strong family.

But it doesn’t come through legalism.  We don’t need a long list of rules to tell us how to love.  Doug Phillips wrote up several lists of “beliefs” that patriarchal families were to hold to, with each one being more and more restrictive.  Doug Phillips also insisted that the Law of Moses applied to us today.  I wish I could share with him the truth that Jesus came to free us from that bondage!

Love.  Or rules.

Which one binds us together?  Which one holds the family together?  Which one holds the church together?  Which one is written on our hearts now?

Early in my marriage, I committed adultery.  I repented from that many years ago, but what keeps me from committing adultery again?  Love?  Or rules?  Which is a stronger bond?

When we live our life by rules, which are just another form of legalism, we will stumble and fall.  We can’t help ourselves.  However, when we live our lives by LOVE, it is a whole different story.  Today, I don’t need a rule to tell me not to commit adultery.  Love for others keeps me from even thinking in that direction.  But even if I were to commit adultery again, love would bring me to repentance, not rules.

I still do not know why my adultery of 25 years ago was brought up in the excommunication, and why Doug Phillips found it necessary to tell the whole world about something I long ago repented from, but the Bible has a verse that seems rather appropriate to all this today:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

Today, Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum, a ministry and business that is the culmination of his life’s work, his passion and love that he has given himself fully to for the last twenty years or so.  I do not rejoice in this announcement, as I realize how devastating this must be for Doug Phillips and his family, but I cannot help but think that today, Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown.

Here is his announcement:

Statement of Resignation

Doug 1by Douglas Phillips, Esq., October 30, 2013

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

Doug Phillips

This is the difference between a life of love versus a life of legalism.  The rules were too heavy, too burdensome for him to bear.  No one could continue under all those rules and experience the abundant life God has for us.  This is very sad.

I pray that Doug Phillips will use this time to do some serious soul searching, not just in this one area, but in the burdens of life that he has put upon himself and his family and thousands of other families who have looked up to him for so many years.  Now is the time to reevaluate rules in favor of love.

Beall, I love you.  My heart hurts for you.

Someday, I hope to hear Doug Phillips preaching that not only does love cover a multitude of sins but that life is all about love.  Period.