Denver Christian Perspectives Examiner: “Doug Phillips of Vision Forum resigns due to affair”

The religious section of Examiner has written several articles on Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.  Here are the links and intros:

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum resigns due to affair

In an online public statement at Vision Forum Ministries, on October 30, Doug Phillips admitted to, and repented of, a “lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.”

He stepped down as president of Vision Forum Ministries and stopped all speaking engagements. It is unclear if he has stepped down as an Elder at Boerne Christian Assembly (his name is still listed on the website).[UPDATE: sometime on November 4 the church website removed his name.]

This article is continued here.

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Vision Forum Ministries closes its doors

On November 11, a prominent “biblical patriarchy”and family-integration organization, Vision Forum Ministries, announced on its website that they are “discontinuing operations.” The details were picked up by the Atlantic Wire.

In their website page they stated:

“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.

Read the rest of this article here.

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Doug Phillips clarifies details of his repentance and resignation

In a surprising turn of events, Doug Phillips, of the ultra-conservative Vision Forum Inc., posted a Clarification on Resignation, dated November 14, 2013. Desiring to “clear up some matters” surrounding the details of his extramarital affair that he repented of earlier, he wrote:

“Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years.”

As his previous resignation and repentance noted, the relationship was such that they did “not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense.”

This article is continued here.

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Top five influential claims of Doug Phillips’ defunct Vision Forum Ministries

With the recent resignation of Mr. Phillips and theclosing of his organization, Vision Forum Ministries, there is much speculation on how that will impact the greater homeschooling and conservative Christian communities.

The impact may challenge followers to rethink the practices and teaching taught by this organization. So for those pastors and families unaware of the views of Mr. Phillips and his organization, this top five list will help you evaluate their continued influence.

There are five claims summarized with a short rebuttal:

  1. Christians should homeschool
  2. Churches should be “family-integrated”
  3. Christian should use the “desert-island test”
  4. History was full of famous homeschoolers (and your kid could be next)
  5. Hope for America is a homeschooling, patriarchy, family-integrated movement

 

To open each of the five claims above, go here to read both the claims and the rebuttals.

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How to respond to Doug Phillips’ confession and resignation

With Mr. Phillip’s recent public admission of an “inappropriate relationship” with another woman, there has been much speculation on internet websites and blogs.

Not all the speculation is coming from those who disagree with his approach to patriarchy,homeschooling or family integrated churches. Some who think well of him have assumed things not specifically written in his resignation letter. Of course, some who disagree with him have also assumed things not specifically written in his resignation letter.

But it is the local governing body that knows the details.

This article is continued here.

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This particular news site has written many reviews and articles on Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, and other related ministries and conferences in the last several years, so they are well acquainted with Doug Phillips and his teachings.  I would recommend exploring some of their related stories and links as well.

The Christian Post: “Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips: Extra-Marital Relationship Was ‘Sufficiently Serious’ to Resign, Confirms ‘Inappropriate Physical Component'”

Former Vision Forum Ministries president Doug Phillips reiterated yesterday that his decision to resign from his leadership position was the proper outcome following his acknowledgement that he had “inappropriate relationship” with a woman who was not his wife.

“Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin,” Phillips said in astatement on the Vision Forum Ministries website on Nov. 14.

Phillips also elaborated on the details of his relationship which he had previously only disclosed as “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” and asserted that he had not known the woman in a “Biblical sense.”

“Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years,” Phillips wrote.

The rest of the article may be found here.

The Atlantic Wire: “An Infidelity Scandal Just Shuttered a Major ‘Biblical Patriarchy’ Organization”

A major conservative Christian organization shuttered its doors on Monday after its president, Doug Phillips, resigned from his position in the wake of an extramarital affair. Phillips is an extremely influential leader in the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement, a wing of conservative evangelical Christianity that believes men should have “dominion” over women. Phillips and his organization, Vision Forum, are enormously active in a cluster of related ministries, including the Christian homeschooling movement. The group also advocates against access to birth control and abortion. Even if you don’t know Vision Forum, you know some of its friends: Kirk Cameron, for one; the Duggars, for another.

Here’s what happened.

Doug Phillips’ “Sincere” Resignation Does NOT Mean Sincere Repentance

Doug Phillips is responding to some of the questions many people have been asking, but without really saying much of anything:

Clarification on Resignation

by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013

I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.

Doug Phillips

 

I want to be clear on my own part that I am NOT Doug Phillips’ enemy.  I want God’s best for him and his family, which is why I am here.  Sometimes tough love is necessary, and that is the kind of love I have toward Doug right now.

I also want to be clear that I am in no way rejoicing over this.  What has happened has not only sent ripples throughout the “community,” and has affected the larger Christian homeschooling communities, but leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are looking in from the outside as well.  While I believe that Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown, it brings me no joy whatsoever.  I would much rather that he would have repented years ago when his sins and the consequences would have been smaller.  But, they still continue to grow.  And I still see no true repentance on Doug Phillips’ part.

Doug Phillips states his resignation is sincere and necessary.  Of course it was necessary, but how can you have an insincere resignation?  Did he really think through his words here?  Did he mean that his repentance was sincere, but he was so focused on the devastation of his resignation that he said “resignation” accidentally?  Or does he expect us to think better of him because he states that his resignation was sincere?  Yes, the board “sincerely” forced Doug Phillips to step down!

I do agree with Doug that we should not be speculating on the specifics of what has happened.  I sincerely believe that this woman should be the one to come forward and tell her story.  It is no one’s business to postulate certain things about her that are not true.  Speaking from experience, I know that the best thing I ever did was to come out and tell my side of the story here, admitting to my part and my sins, as well as telling the facts of the story.  I hope this young woman will do the same.  It will free her from the guilt and shame that she is unnecessarily bringing upon herself right now.  I know that she will be amazed by the support and help that many, many others are willing to show her, that she will know the freedom of not having to live in “hiding,” and that she will be able to begin healing.

This “clarification” from Doug Phillips simply confirms that I still see no true repentance and that this is a slick political move that sets him up for a season of “repentance” before he makes a big comeback in a year or two.  When Doug Phillips rights the wrongs he has committed against dozens and dozens of people, as well as this other woman, his wife and family, then I will begin listening to his words of repentance.

Patriarchy 101

Making Dinner

The Christian Post: “Vision Forum to Close Down Following Doug Phillips’ Admission of ‘Inappropriate Relationship'”

Wesley Strackbein, a spokesperson for Vision Forum, told The Christian Post that while the non-profit will cease to exist, the board is currently deliberating on whether the organizations’ conferences, workshops, film festival (which was canceled a week before Phillips’ announcement) and other programs, will continue apart from the organization. 

It has also been confirmed that while Phillips’ former non-profit employer will shutter, he will maintain control of his for-profit company, Vision Forum Inc., which sells books, audio lectures, and toys that promote the organization’s conservative beliefs.

 

To read the full article, go here.

UK Daily Mail Reports on Doug Phillips

Married leader of controversial Quiverfull movement which promotes family values resigns and shuts down ministry after having an affair

  • Doug Phillips, an adherent of the Quiverfull movement – which promotes male dominance and large families – has quit as leader of his ministries
  • He said he had a ‘lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman’
  • He has been the leader of the Vision Forum Ministries, which is based in Texas and teaches families to home-school to ‘exercise dominion’
  • Now the board of directors has decided to close his ministries
  • Phillips is close friends with the Duggars from TLC’s ’19 Kids and Counting’ – who are also adherents to the Quiverfull movement

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2503322/Married-leader-controversial-Quiverfull-movement-promotes-family-values-resigns-having-affair.html#ixzz2kUybUrer

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.

“Proof” of Doug Phillips’ Repentance

One of Doug Phillips’ followers sent me a link to a bunch of pictures where he wonders if this is Doug’s confession before his church.

First, this is not his church.  This is the San Antonio Independent Film Festival, and Doug Phillips did not confess before 1800 strangers.

Second, these pictures were taken in February.  If there was true repentance in February, why the need to step down in October?

Take a look for yourself, but just in case they come down off the blog, I will preserve them here for others to decide if Doug Phillips is confessing before his smiling wife on opening night of this grand event?

02-07-13  SAICFF -14

02-07-13  SAICFF -16

02-07-13  SAICFF -28

The Washington Post: “Patriarchy proponent Doug Phillips resigns after extramarital relationship”

The Washington Post chimes in today:

Doug Phillips, an outspoken proponent of male “dominion” over women and a leading home-schooling activist, has stepped down as president of his Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman.

After cancelling all planned speaking engagements, Phillips, however, on Wednesday (Nov. 6) said he will still maintain ownership of the affiliated Vision Forum Inc., a for-profit company.

Phillips, who has eight children with his wife Beall, wrote on the ministry website on Oct. 30 that he would step down as a ministry leader.

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

Calls to Vision Forum Ministries were not returned.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Huff Post: “Doug Phillips: The Big Scandal You Didn’t Hear About and Why It Matters”

Huff Post reports this today:

Doug Phillips, the Home School Movement’s leading Quiverful Patriarch resigned from Vision Forum Ministries, admitting a “lengthy inappropriate relationship” with a woman. It appears that while as he has been fighting homosexuality and feminism as threats to marriage, he has actually been the threat.

His supporters are lauding his resignation letter as appropriately contrite repentance and arguing that this has no bearing on the validity of Biblical Patriarchy. But actually it does, making this more important than another hypocritical cheating scandal.

Phillips is a key figure bringing Christian Reconstruction into the larger home school world. Building upon R.J. Rushdoony’s postmillennialism and “Biblical Philosophy of History,” he teaches home-schooling families to “exercise dominion” through 200-year plans, “multi-generational faithfulness” and “Biblical Patriarchy.”

His influence is hard to overstate; there is barely a part of the home-school movement his empire has not touched. He started as an attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), is a sought-after speaker at home school conventions and Vision Forum sponsors well-attended conferences of its own. Phillips was a founder of the patriarchal Family Integrated Church Movement. He has close partnerships with Henry Morris at Institute for Creation Research, the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting and actor-turned-Christian activist Kirk Cameron.

 

To read the rest of the article about how Doug Phillips’ resignation fits into his 200-year plan, read here.

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.

Doug Phillips’ Fear Propaganda at the Ballot Box

Although the stated reasons for my excommunication were quite vague and broad-brushed, with no evidence given whatsoever, I believe the main underlying reason why Doug Phillips excommunicated me really had to do with politics. Well, that was the outward circumstance for an inward attitude. Four years ago, as we prepared for the presidential election, Doug Phillips took a very strong stand on why Christians should vote for Michael Peroutka, a virtually unknown candidate for the Constitution Party, the party of Doug’s father, Howard Phillips. For weeks and weeks before the election, we heard political propaganda pounded into us from the pulpit and through the discussion time of the men after the weekly sermon.

Now, I have nothing personally against Peroutka, and he may have been a very fine candidate, but there were many reasons why I was not going to vote for him. And since we live in a free country, and since Jesus bought our spiritual freedom as well, I certainly thought I had the freedom to vote for any presidential candidate I thought best. Little did I know at the time that by reason of my being born female, I was not to be afforded the privilege of freely choosing whom I wanted to vote for.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on everything, it seems that one way that Doug Phillips can promote his political agenda is to keep women from participating, not only by stating that it is a sin for women to be in politics, but also that God does not allow women to vote. In Doug’s world, women are not allowed a college education where they might be exposed to political issues. In Doug’s brand of hyper-patriarchy, women are not allowed to have an opinion or a belief that is not their husband’s as well. When it comes to politics, that is a subject that is verboten to women and should only interest men.

A quick review of the last election run-in with Doug Phillips

Although Doug Phillips does not normally allow comments on his blog (which should be a huge red flag already — no dissent allowed), on this one particular occasion, he did actually solicit his readers’ opinions to a voting scenario he laid out between candidates A and B. Having previously spoken with one of the Vision Forum employees about my concerns regarding Doug’s views on politics, this particular employee had encouraged me to write Doug and express my own thoughts on the matter. I did not feel at liberty to do so at the time, but when this blog article came out just a few days before the election, I immediately jumped at the chance to participate. Of immense interest to me was a voting debate hosted by Doug Phillips and posted at the same time. I chose to respond to both.

Could I have responded any better? Of course! First, emotions were running high on both sides. Second, this was my very first attempt at taking a side on any issue, so I was not versed at all in the skill of debate. Third, as I look back at where I was spiritually then, I wince when I read that I wrote things like “Shame on you” to my elder. Although I meant it lightheartedly, it was not appropriate to say, and I was wrong for saying that. But was I wrong for writing it in the first place? Was I wrong for having an opinion? Was I wrong for voicing my opinion? No.

But I wrote my response and sent it off with my husband’s full blessing to Doug’s private email address so that no one else need know about it. Why did my response that Friday generate such a riposte then in return on Sunday? When Doug arrived at church that Sunday, shortly after the service had already started, I asked to speak to him outside. Very reluctantly, he agreed. As I apologized for gossiping about him a couple weeks earlier, I asked if he would forgive me. Rather than doing so, he qualified his forgiveness by asking if I would also apologize for writing him the voting letter. I did not see that I had sinned in doing so, and said as much. Refusing to forgive me for gossiping then, Doug threatened me instead, “You’re going to pay for this!” I had no idea at the time that this was a threat of excommunication. As I found out later, though, my sin was not in writing and sending the email, but in being a woman. I was told that the letter would have been fine if Mark was the one who had written it, even though his name was included and it was sent with his full blessing.

Much to my surprise, Doug then went inside to preach, but it was not the next chapter in I Kings this week. No, he pulled out my letter and began to read from it. As he would read each point, he would preach against it, point by point. He did not say my name, but I found it quite comical to see him so incensed by my letter that he chose to preach against it two days before the election. That was my first indication that BCA was no longer a church, but a cult.

Doug Phillips’ “Biblical” Principles of the Ballot Box

Super Tuesday is almost upon us now and Doug Phillips has released a new CD called “Biblical Principles of the Ballot Box,” available for a donation of any amount. I have not listened to it, but I do wonder if it is that sermon where he preached against my letter, point by point. Whatever it is, I am quite confident that I know the basics of what it contains. There is one thing I have noticed about Doug Phillips over the years: his positions do not change at all, but they do grow more and more extreme. So, I will relay his position according to the last election four years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more extremes as we continue building up to the elections this November.

Is Doug still upset about my voting letter? In his blog entry last Monday, January 28th, he talked about Christians who are “fearful” of voting according to the Bible. Look at some of the hyperbole he uses in that article:

At stake is far more than the presidency. We can “win” an election, and yet sell our spiritual birthright.

As I have gotten into the habit of highlighting unnecessary language in Doug’s writings, it has become clear that much of his “vision” is fear-driven propaganda. Let’s strip away the rhetoric and see what he is telling us. First, if we don’t vote for the “biblical” candidate, we are like Esau, selling our “spiritual” birthright. And that is more important than the election itself. Wow. I don’t remember Esau selling his birthright for a vote for the wrong presidential candidate. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. But it’s kind of scary to think that we might end up like Esau, especially when we think about what God said about him: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated.” Talk about a heavy burden. I thought this was the land of the free. I thought we were free to vote for any presidential candidate. When Jesus said He came to set us free, I wonder if He meant freedom except that He would lay upon us the burden of selling our spiritual birthright if we voted for the wrong candidate for president of the United States of America. That’s a pretty heavy fear tactic.

[W]hat matters the most is that the Church remains faithful to her Bridegroom by following the only infallible standard ever written for the selection of civil magistrates.

I suppose I would have to listen to the CDs to find what these verses are that detail exactly how we should vote in the upcoming elections. I agree that there are certainly principles we can find in Scripture, such as being careful of voting for those who promote murder through abortion, but most of the principles Doug is espousing here are certainly extra-biblical and have little-to-nothing to do with how we are really to vote. Perhaps this is the section where God does not allow women to vote either. However, if we look at Doug’s reasoning here, we will soon be quite fearful that we would be unfaithful to our Bridegroom if we vote for the wrong person. Now our vote is raised to the level of spiritual adultery. The fear level continues to grow.

Some believe that the Bible is silent on the question of what standards should govern the selection of a civil magistrate. But to reach this conclusion is to deny the sufficiency of Scripture, and to substitute autonomous human reason for biblical revelation.

Does the Bible tell us how to vote? Or are we given liberty in this area? Is this an area where God expects us to use wisdom or must we follow the dictates of Doug Phillips in our private voting booth? If I vote for a different candidate than Doug Phillips does, am I denying the sufficiency of Scripture? That sounds as bad as saying that every woman who works outside the home is blaspheming Scripture. That’s pretty serious stuff. Autonomous is a word Doug likes to use in conjunction with antinomianism, so this statement is effectually saying that if you don’t vote for the right “biblical” candidate, you don’t believe the Bible and you are an antinomian. More fear tactics.

Others are so fearful of certain outcomes, that there is little reasoning with them.

But nobody really likes to be called “fearful,” so let’s attack those who use logic and reason to sort through the issues and win them over with lots of honey instead!

They want to condemn their brethren by saying that a vote for X, is really a vote for Y.

Aha! This is taken straight from my letter to Doug! He does remember! In this case, I said that a vote for Peroutka was really a vote for Kerry, in that it took votes away from Bush. When an election is as close as the last presidential election was, if voters who would otherwise have voted for Bush ended up voting for someone who didn’t have a snowball’s-chance-in-hell of winning, that was one less vote for Bush for each person who voted for Peroutka. Simple math shows that taking votes away from Bush increases Kerry’s numbers proportionately. But is it really condemnation to point out the obvious? Or is it just more fear tactics to use a trigger word for Christians like “condemn”?

Their election fears seem sometimes to rise to a self-righteous hysteria, governed more by emotions than objective standards.

Self-righteous hysteria! I can’t say for sure, but if Doug is speaking of me here, my hysteria was rather calm in that I didn’t let anyone else know about it except for Mark and Doug. Of course, telling others that they are reaching the level of being hysterical is certainly going to win them over to your point of view. And then we have emotions versus objective standards. I listed objective standards all throughout my paper in opposition to Doug’s emotional stance for Peroutka. In fact, I don’t believe he liked it when I suggested that perhaps Peroutka supporters were so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good in this election. I had a very difficult time finding any objective standards in Doug’s position. This is just more fear mongering on Doug’s part.

The Bible has the answer to the ethical chaos of fear-driven voting, pragmatic voting, “ends-justifies-the-means” voting, and “lesser-of-two-evils” voting.

Fear, fear, fear.

It explores the blessing presented in Scripture to all who will enter the ballot box with supreme confidence that the Lord sovereignly reigns, that He is more pleased with our obedience than with our rationalistic, extra-biblical voting strategies, and that the greatest hope for America is not found in the outcome of any one election, but in the persevering witness of the Church as God’s representative in America, to uphold his non-negotiable standards and righteousness.

Perhaps Doug Phillips and I will vote for the same candidate this year, but it will be with two very different motivations. I am not driven by fear that I will lose my spiritual birthright if I vote for the wrong candidate. I do not think I will cease to believe in the Bible if I vote for the wrong guy. I won’t get hysterical or self righteous, but I might use a little logic and reasoning and seek to understand the issues.

I don’t think God has promised me any blessings for voting for “God’s” candidate. God is sovereign and He will put the person He wants as president in office, with or without my vote. But Doug does have one statement right here: “He is more pleased with our obedience than with our … extra-biblical voting strategies.” We haven’t looked at any verses in this short article on Doug’s extra-biblical voting strategies, but we will continue to look at his political ideas this year and we will find that they are, indeed, very extra-biblical. Jesus gave us freedom. We live in a free country. Please do not be under the bondage that you must follow Doug’s voting strategies or God will not be pleased with you. You are free to vote for whomever you choose this year.

But in the end, it probably doesn’t really matter what my opinion is on the matter because I am, after all, only a woman, and God doesn’t allow women to vote!

We went to a rally in Victoria, Texas today. We were told that the Constitution guarantees us certain freedoms. It was good to see people enjoying their freedom today.

Vision Forum Views on Women: Monstrous Regiment and Baby Dolls

From Doug’s Blog today:

The “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award — a $10,000 grand prize — went to The Monstrous Regiment of Women, a fifty-four minute documentary directed and produced by the Gunn Brothers. Featuring an all star, all female cast — including Phyllis Schlafly and F. Carolyn Graglia — the film demonstrates how feminism has restricted choices for all women, brought heartache to the lives of many, and perpetuated an unprecedented holocaust through legalized abortion.

“We made Monstrous Regiment because we believe that feminism is one of the most detrimental philosophies effecting our church, family, and government,” remarked Colin Gunn, whose wife Emily co-wrote and narrated the film. “We want to thank the [Festival] for recognizing the importance of this message. We are privileged and honored to receive this award.”

This marked the second Jubilee Award for the Gunn Brothers. In 2004, they won “Best Political” for their film, Shaky Town. In addition to landing the festivals’ top honor in 2007, The Monstrous Regiment of Women took runner-up for “Best Documentary.”

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From a Vision Forum email advertising their new baby doll today:

The way a child plays will influence who that child will become. And the tools of play are an important part of the equation.

Play is preparation for adulthood. Play can prepare a child for maturity or for teen rebellion. Play may breed noble dreams and actions, or it may reinforce dark and unhealthy attitudes. Play may reinforce biblical gender roles (women as mothers and homemakers; men as defenders and protectors of women; etc.), or it may supplant them with the stereotypes perpetuated by modern feminism.

But one thing is certain — play (like the rest of life) is never neutral.

Our culture is engaged in a battle for the heart and soul of the family. It is even reflected in the present doll wars. At stake is whether the play life of our children will reflect efforts to rebuild a culture of virtuous boyhood and girlhood, or whether it will focus on training the next generation of me-centered, empowered, feminists.

There is a reason why feminists hate the message of the Beautiful Girlhood Collection. They hate it because so many of the contributions to this collection emphasize a message of holy submission to the priorities of the Lord and not the feminist empowerment model. They hate it because it represents many of the historic family values of the old era of Christendom. And they hate the constant emphasis that a girl’s play should pave the way for her to better embrace the feminine models and admonitions presented in such Scriptures as Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and I Peter 3. We disagree with the feminists. We also disagree with any corporate model for success which capitalizes on the most negative influences in modern youth culture to market products to children. And we take seriously our mission to encourage, bless, and promote Christian family culture for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Here we are with a typical either-or dilemma from Doug Phillips and Vision Forum: all women either hold to Doug’s version of patriarchy or they are feminists. Which camp are you in? Are there really only two choices biblically?

Doug Phillips and Brian Abshire Team Up Against Cult-Watch Journal Article

I think Doug likes giving me more things to write about. I just couldn’t pass up this latest blog entry from Doug:

(Here is the original article Doug is referring to.)

How to Respond to a Tale-Bearer: Dr. Brian Abshire Models an Apologetic of Sound Reasoning and Christian Charity for Family Reformers

A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 5:22 – 6:4) A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7) The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.) Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy

The Bible rejects the egalitarian doctrine of feminism. It expressly teaches hierarchy within the home, including the servant-like, Christ-honoring leadership of fathers. It expressly teaches differences of roles and responsibilities between men and women (although there are many areas of overlap). (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6)

The Bible does not, however, teach (a) the subjugation of women under the oppression of men; (b) the right of parents to brutalize or dominate children; or (c) the inferiority of women to men.

Nor does the Bible teach or encourage the notion that (a) women are barred from Christian ministry; (b) that the mind of a woman is inferior to that of a man; or (c) that women should not benefit from advanced training and higher education.

Yet the fact that there are no orthodox Evangelical ministries or preachers of note (of whom I am aware) who teach such things does not prevent immature, hateful, or merely misguided individuals from leveling all sorts of fantastical and sometimes humorous charges against ministries who fight for the biblical family and hold to historical Reformation views of male leadership within the church and home. (See the The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, Marriage and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva, The Role of Women in the Church, An Exegetical Defense of Women as Keepers at Home, Making Wise Decisions About College and Life After Home School, The Blessed Marriage, Discipline: The Biblical Doctrine, etc., etc., etc.)

We at Vision Forum have raised serious objections to: (1) the working-woman philosophy of the late 20th century; (2) the cultural depravity of the modern university; (3) the feministic philosophy of the anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian household leadership; (4) the culture of death and self-gratification, with its emphasis on closing the fruitful womb; and (5) attempts by liberals or vendetta-driven individuals to viciously mock fruitful mothers as baby machines, etc.

While raising these objections, we have also discussed and published material addressing: (1) alternatives to traditional college for both men and women; (2) the importance of cultivating the minds of both men and women to the fullest (for example, training both to be vigorous entrepreneurs); (4) the necessity of holding abusive husbands (and wives) accountable through the local church; and (5) the biblical imperative that men act nobly and sacrificially for women and children first. (See So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, The Wise Woman’s Guide to Blessing her Husband’s Vision, Strength and Dignity for Daughters, Defending the Fatherless: How the Body of Christ Can Help Single Mothers, Suffer the Children: The Blessing of Imperfect Children, Raising Maidens of Virtue, etc., etc., etc.)

These positions may be distasteful to some, but they are neither novel nor innovative.

Furthermore, we have stood with those men and women who are part of the growing chorus of concerned Christians who are exposing the deception perpetrated by “Christian” leftists, Marxists and/or feminists of many shades, as well as Internet assassins, dishonorable tale-bearing gossips and blog gangsters who have unscrupulously attempted to silence real debate and lodge their opposition by aggressively bringing a false witness against defenders of biblical principles of patriarchy and by attributing to them views which they do not believe and attitudes which they detest, as part of an effort to objectify individuals by painting Christian mothers as mindless drones and fathers as wife-denigrating tyrants.

Such behavior is nothing new to Bible-based reformation movements. Within the last fifty years alone we have seen similar tactics lodged against six-day-creationists, home educators, advocates of the fruitful womb and parents concerned about the modern birth control ethic, and others seeking to recapture the historical biblical principles of orthodoxy and orthopraxy embraced by Church fathers and Reformers alike.

And we believe that the message of Scripture is as true and applicable today as it was when the words were first penned by divine inspiration:

These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

But Christ’s message is not merely condemnation for the sowers of discord, the gossip-mongers, and the dividers of the brethren. Scripture exhorts a holy boldness for every mother and father who must endure the revilings of the Sandballats and Tobiahs (Nehemiah 4:1-7) of their day, while they as visionary parents seek to rebuild the walls of their family for the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel message:

Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. (Nehemiah 4:14)

Towards the Self-Government of Our Collective Tongues

Cults do exist. They are wretched abominations, which rightly should be denounced. But if people are going to raise the “C” word publicly, they had best be prepared to defend such a charge before the world, and if found guilty of defaming a legitimate work of Christ, they must be prepared to face the consequences which are rightly due to those who divide brethren and slander the servants of the Lord. Doug’s Blog, August, 2005

I wrote that comment more than two years ago, and I stand by it today. I stand by it because as a former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, I have defended parents whose families and basic parental rights have been placed in jeopardy by reckless, talebearers who throw around such language before the world. (I watched innocent mothers and fathers undergo tremendous persecution at the hands of professing Christians who believed that it was weird and cultic to home educate.) I stand by it because, as Geoff Botkin pointed out, it is the tool of “infantile Christians” to send those brothers with whom they differ to the coliseums of the 21st century. I stand by it because one need only watch the news to see the comparisons that some in the Press are trying to make between Christians who teach role distinctions between men and women and militant extremist groups like the Taliban. Nor do we have to think hard to remember at least one case where American children were sent to their deaths by the Clinton administration because their parents were part of real cult groups.

Finally, I stand by my statement of more than two years ago because our ministry receives too many reports of mothers and fathers who are mocked, belittled, and accused of being “cultic” by fellow Christians, because these parents home school by conviction, or actively desire the fruit of the womb, or spank their children, or educate their college-age daughters at home instead of thousands of miles away at a defiling university, or embrace courtship and betrothal over the dating model when it comes to their children’s marriages, or believe men should be leaders in the church and the home, etc., etc..

This brings me to the heart of the article before you:

For all of the above reasons, I applaud men like Dr. Brian Abshire who help the Christian public understand the tactics of “infantile Christians” who lightly use the “C” word to discredit those Christians with whom they personally disagree.

I applaud him for many reasons, one of which is Geoff Botkin’s point: If men like Dr. Abshire do not take the time to address the reckless public name-calling of undisciplined, professing Christians, tension within the Body of Christ is likely to escalate. If the Body of Christ does not learn to control our collective tongues and be a self-governing household of God for the glory of Jesus Christ, there could be very hard days ahead of us. History is replete with stories of the inhumanity of professing Christians against professing Christians. It may very well be that the immature or unscrupulous “Christians” — filled with self-righteousness, intolerant of differences that clearly fall within the pale of orthodoxy — will be the ones who pave the way for a new wave of statist tyranny and destructive family intervention. And if the Lord is merciful, and none of this ever happens, we would be foolish to believe that there will be no spiritual consequences on a Church so immature that the viciousness among professing members towards each other exceeds anything directed at the world itself.

Dr. Brian Abshire Helps Christian Students, Parents, and Pastors Model a Charitable Response to Tale-Bearers and False Accusers of the Brethren

Enter Dr. Brian Abshire — pastor of Highlands Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Abshire recognizes that the plague of talebearing is a heartache to the Church, and that those who use the Internet to traffic in tale-bearing, as well as those who receive the tale-bearing, are guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment.

He finds especially distasteful talebearers who use words like “cult” or “cultic” as a fear-mongering tactic and to attack the credibility of ministries, mothers, fathers, and pastors who reject feminism and hold to historic Reformation doctrines of the family. In fact, he finds their behavior sufficiently distasteful that he has authored a devastating response to one of them.

In the course of his article, Dr. Abshire defends himself, Vision Forum Ministries, and, indirectly, innocent men and women who embrace the same principles of family leadership, honor, and generational faithfulness advocated by the Reformers and embodied in documents like this.

In my view, Dr. Abshire’s article is a charitable, logical, and an accurate response to an individual who has set aside fundamental rules of brotherly conduct and journalistic integrity to traffic in accusations which are characterized by imprecision and falsehood.

And because this sort of behavior is becoming so very commonplace — especially on the Internet — articles like this are instructive. Dr. Abshire has given parents, pastors, and students a helpful model of how to respond to reckless, uncharitable, ungoverned Christian brothers who err by using the Internet and other means to bring a false witness against their neighbor in violation of the Ninth Commandment.

Specifically, Dr. Abshire’s rebuttal is quite instructive because he exposes the numerous basic fallacies, errors in logic, research omissions, unbrotherly conduct, lack of elementary principles of academic and journalistic integrity, and outright falsehoods employed by an individual who was unwilling to retract his accusations after being confronted in writing and verbally. And Dr. Abshire makes his case with manly firmness, but genuine Christian charity, ever willing to give the benefit of the doubt to an accuser who was most certainly not willing to do the same for him.

Below are just a few samples of the categories addressed by Dr. Abshire in his response:

Dr. Abshire on Equating Personal Differences with Cultic Teaching

…you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion. This is NOT fair, equitable or honest; it is propaganda — it is the straw man argument. Simply because YOU disagree with an interpretation of the Scriptures (and as will be shown later, an “application” of the Scriptures) does not necessarily mean that those who propose it are “false teachers.”

Dr. Abshire on Accusation without Attestation

…most of your essay makes accusations without attestation; in other words, you SAY that someone believes “such and such” but provide no actual quotes from essays, articles, lectures, books, etc., where the person actually makes such statements. And since when you DO actually make an attribution, as in the case of my unnamed essay and you leave out important qualifying statements or ignore the context, it leaves me wondering just how accurately you have represented other people’s views.

Abshire on Talebearing, the “C” Word, and Willful Misrepresentation

You take statements out of context, ignore qualifying statements that actually DENY what you say we believe and implicitly call us “cultic” when our views are Right Square in the middle of historic Christian orthodoxy. I am afraid that I must say that it appears you either did not understand the issues, or you deliberately misrepresented our views for some reason…My point is that you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion.

Dr. Abshire on the Duty to Perform Basic Research

There is a recurring problem in your essay; a failure to do basic research…It is basic scholarship that if a statement is controversial, especially critiquing another person’s view, you MUST show that this is what the person actually said. This you fail to do throughout your essay.

Dr. Abshire on the Misrepresentation of Actual Citations

…you write, ‘…women cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands.’ You then give a long quote which has NOTHING to do with your assessment. The quote simply does not say what you said it says. In fact, the quote rejects autonomy, especially in regards to a girl following her ‘heart’ and affirms her trust in her father to help her make decisions on some basis other than emotions. Nowhere does this quotation imply, necessarily or otherwise that fathers are to “micro-mange” their daughters or that women are not trusted to make decisions on their own…Therefore, the question becomes this; if when you DO give an actual citation, your assessment is clearly contrary to fact, how can anyone trust your assessments when you do not provide the citations? You either horribly misunderstood the quotation, or you deliberately misrepresented it.

Dr. Abshire on Historic Doctrines vs. Modern Feminist Assumptions

…the view that you propose here is at best about forty years old, originating in Liberal universities and mainline theological seminaries in the late 1960’s and filtering into evangelical ones in the 1970’s…

Dr. Abshire on Tale Bearing, the “C” Word, and the Duty of False Accusers to Repent

Will you repent of your false accusations, or maintain them? Please remember-this is not an attack against you… you have publicly accused us of being cultic and teachers of false doctrine… If we do not believe it, then you have born false witness against us, breaking the Ninth Commandment and slandering the brethren. Therefore, you need to recant here, publicly and confess your sin to your readers.

The War against 1900 Years of Established Church Orthodoxy

Multi-generational faithfulness is not a new concept. Male leadership in the family, church, and state is not a new concept (Ex 18:21ff; Prov. 31:23; 1 Cor. 11:3ff; Eph. 5:23). Biblical femininity(Prov. 31; Eph. 5:22-24; 1Tim. 2:9ff), women as “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5ff) and helpmeets to their husbands is not a new concept. The duty of fathers to protect their daughters until they are “given in marriage”(Dt. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:37-38) is not a new concept. The importance of seeking the Lord for children as His reward is not a new concept(Ps. 127:1-5). All of these are important elements of principles of biblical patriarchy.

These are not new concepts, nor are they concepts rooted in cultural traditions or pagan precedents. We maintain that they are exegetically defensible, biblical concepts rooted in the creation order itself, communicated through the dominion mandate and subsequent law revelations of God, and reflective of His transcendent character and eternal righteousness.

And the weight of church history and biblical scholarship favors these understandings.

Critics of these principles who claim to be Christian within the historical Reformation tradition, but who don’t want to be called “feminist,” have their work cut out for them. Because, in the end, they have to pick a fight with scholars and teachers far more astute than most of the best ones alive today: They have to pick a fight with the likes of John Calvin, John Knox, Martin Luther, and Martin Bucer— just to name a few. (Frankly, the positions adovcated by Vision Forum Ministries are mild and tempered compared to some of the conclusions advocated by these men.)

But these critics appear disinclined to do so. At least no credible individuals have done so to date. True, there is a spate of liberal university scholarship arguing for an anti-hierarchical, anti-patriarchal, anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian view of Scripture. (And much of it follows the rules of civil dialogue and discourse.) But most of these individuals do not claim to be within the pale of the historic, conservative, reformation or evangelical tradition. They are liberals, and they are honest about that fact. They are honest about their feminism. Some of them are even excellent scholars — like Gordon Fee (Author of numerous books on evangelical feminism). I just happen to disagree with them.

My criticism goes out to those who pretend to be neither feminist, nor liberals, but who have adopted the premises of both and who resort to the type of disreputable tactics, which Dr. Abshire has rightly censured. These are the half-cocked and sometimes agenda-driven commentators. From such we have come to expect an avoidance of documented, confirmable facts, in favor of ad hominum attacks, caricature, and whopper stories which appear designed to present as freaks and cultic those proponents of family reformation who sympathize with the type of ideas summarized in the first paragraph of this article.

At this point, more and more people realize that there is a big difference between a sloppy diatribe, on the one hand, and a real argument marshaled by reputable sources who have done their homework, on the other. Brian Abshire’s exhaustive refutation of an episode of serious talebearing demonstrates that people who resort to shadowy tactics have disqualified themselves from the right to be taken seriously — at least until they clean up their act and turn over a new leaf.

Dr. Abshire’s article accomplishes one other important goal: It brings encouragement to fathers and sons, moms and daughters committed to family reformation — and there are many — who have been subject to unfair harassment or vicious talebearing. It should encourage them, not only because of his charitable spirit and reasoned argumentation, but because his article is a sign of what can be — reasoned, brotherly discourse for the glory of God.

Click here to view the article.

Vision Forum: The Biblical Picture of a Virtuous Woman Is Against a Woman Holding Civil Office

Part III:

In Proverbs 31:10-31, we are given the biblical picture of a woman who fears God and walks in His ways. The passage begins with a question: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The question implies that such a woman is rare and precious, just like rubies. The description of the virtuous woman shows her to be an industrious, loving woman who devotes herself to the well-being of her husband and children. The center of her interest and the place of her ministry are in her home. God has called her to be “a keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), and she willingly and joyfully fulfills her calling to the great blessing of all who depend on her piety, wisdom, and homemaking skills.

Of great importance to the issue before us in this essay, are these words concerning her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land” (Prov. 31:23). The “gates” in Old Testament times referred to the place where the leaders of the city (i.e., “the elders of the land”) would gather to discuss community affairs, administer civil law, and judge in criminal and civil cases. The “gates,” therefore, is a reference to the “city hall,” the “capital building,” the “courthouse” or, in short, to the seat of civil government. The key for us is to note that, in the case of the virtuous woman, it is her husband who is active in the gates; the virtuous woman is not herself seated in the gates — she is active in her home. This should not surprise us, for the order of creation and the law of God establish the fact that men are to bear rule in civil government. The virtuous woman understands this, and takes the vital place that God has assigned her in the home and with her family; she does not try to intrude herself into a seat in the gates. However, we need to note that the virtuous woman’s works are to praised in the gates (Prov. 31:31). Her works are not in the gates, but they are to be praised in the gates; that is, those who are leaders in the community ought to recognize the great work that she is doing in support of the community by faithfully fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother (1 Tim. 2:15; 5:10, 14; Titus 2:3-5). This is her glorious work for the Lord and His kingdom. It is of the utmost importance!

Furthermore, it should be recognized that the virtuous woman does make her presence felt in community concerns. But it is through the influence that she has on her husband (and mature sons) that her wisdom and knowledge will help to direct the affairs of the community. Yes, it is her husband who sits in the gates, but his renown and ability as a civil leader is due, at least in part (if not largely), to her help and support. Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor.

Let no one speak lightly or disparagingly of the woman’s appointed role and her service to Christ and His kingdom! And let no woman set aside the example of the virtuous woman and seek to sit in the gates with the rulers of the land. And let no Christian have any part in putting her there.

Vision Forum: The Biblical Qualifications for Civil Office Require Civil Leaders to Be Men

Part II of the same article by Bill Einwechter:

Every time the Scripture speaks to the subject of the necessary qualifications for those who will bear rule in the civil sphere, it always speaks in terms of men and never in terms of women. This is significant, and based on point number 1 above, it is not hard to understand. The consistent assumption of Scripture is that men are to be the civil magistrates; and, as we have seen, this is not based on culture but upon the created order. Since God is both Creator and Lawgiver there is never any contradiction between the created order and the law of God. And as creation establishes the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of man being created first and the woman being created for man, so the law of God sets the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of the stated qualifications for civil rulers. God set forth the essential qualifications for civil magistrates for all people and for all time when He spoke through Jethro to Moses: “Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…” (Ex. 18:21; emphasis added). And Moses himself said to the people as they were about to choose their civil magistrates, “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you” (Deut. 1:13; emphasis added). Importantly, the word for “men” chosen by the Holy Spirit in both of these texts is the Hebrew, gender specific word for a man, i.e., a male as opposed to a female.

Furthermore, the directions that God gives concerning the establishment of a king in Israel requires that a man, and not a woman, be chosen (Deut. 17:14-20). The king was to be a “brother,” and he was not to “multiply wives to himself.” Clearly, a man is in view here. The law of God commands us, therefore, to choose men to be our rulers! Likewise, in every other passage of Scripture dealing with the civil magistrate and his qualifications and duties, men are in view (2 Sam. 23:3; Neh. 7:2; Prov. 16:10; 20:8, 28; 29:14; 31:4-5; Rom. 13:1-6; etc.). Therefore, the standard of God’s law that men be our civil rulers upholds the order of creation. God has spoken to us in His Word, and there He commands us to set men, not women, into positions of civil authority. To consider these texts (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13; 17:14-20) irrelevant in regards to what they say about setting men in civil office, would logically require us to consider the other qualifications listed as being of no account as well. The rejection of these Scriptures would leave us with no biblical standard for citizens in choosing their rulers. This may suit some, but for those who are the disciples of Jesus Christ and love the law of God, such a position is abhorrent.

Vision Forum: The Headship of Man Disqualifies a Woman for Civil Office

Taken from this article by Bill Einwechter from Vision Forum Ministries:

The scriptural revelation of the creation of man and woman, and the scriptural commentary on their creation establishes the headship of the man over the woman. The text of Genesis 2:7 and 2:18-24 teaches us that man was made first, and then the woman was made to be man’s helper and companion. The Bible instructs us that this order of creation was by God’s design, and that it establishes the positional priority of the man over the woman in regards to authority and leadership. In setting forth the authority of the man over the woman in the context of the local church, Paul appeals to the creation order saying, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13). In another passage, Paul states the divinely ordained order of authority and headship: “But I would have you to know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Therefore, the Apostle Paul teaches that God has decreed that the order of authority be as follows: God-Christ-Man-Woman. Each one in this “chain of command” is under the headship (i.e., authority) of the one preceding him or her. Later on in this same text, Paul, as in 1 Timothy 2, calls upon the order of creation to show man’s headship over the woman. He says, “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:8-9). The Bible explicitly states that the man has headship over the woman, and that this headship is not based on cultural factors, or even the fall; rather, it is based on the created order established by God Himself.

Now it is also plain in the Bible that God has ordained that the order of the headship of man must be maintained in each governing institution set up by God. There are three primary institutions established by the Lord for the ordering of human affairs. These are the family, the church, and the state. Each of these institutions has authority to govern within its appointed sphere. We could say, then, that there are three “governments” in the world: family government, church government, and state government. In each of these governments, God has commanded that men bear rule. The man has headship in the family (Eph. 5:22-24), the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:34-35), and also by implication and command, in the state as well (1 Cor. 11:3; Ex. 18:21; see point 2 below).

Could it be that the man has headship only in the family and the church but not in the state? No, this could not be, lest you make God the author of confusion, and have Him violate in the state the very order He established at creation and has revealed in Holy Scripture! If one is going to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the civil sphere, then to be consistent, he or she also needs to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the family and the church. Now it is true that some attempt to do just that; but their denial of male headship for the family, church, and state is really a rejection of the Word of God and is a repudiation of God’s created order. And it is not sufficient to contend that it is acceptable to support a woman for civil ruler when she is the best candidate, unless you are also prepared to argue that it is acceptable to advocate a woman for the office of elder because she is better suited than the available men in the church; and unless you are also prepared to say that the wife should rule over her husband if she is better equipped to lead than her husband is.

Vision Forum: God Does Not Allow Women to Vote

Lynn brought this up in a comment and I wanted to show the entire context of this statement on the Vision Forum website that “God does not allow women to vote.”

Until the twentieth century, Americans almost universally held to this doctrine of representation in some form or the other. The reason why women were not allowed to vote had nothing to do with women being considered “inferior” or “too emotional” (these values arose during the Victorian era and were themselves theologically and socially deviant) but rather because the husband and father was ASSUMED to represent the family to the broader community. By definition, there could only be ONE representative of the family just as there could only be ONE representative of the Human Race to God!

However, by the end of the 19th century, American Christians had largely stopped thinking in theological terms. Instead, an emotive, subjective religious “experience” (called Pietism”) emphasizing individual conversion replaced the comprehensive Christian worldview of the Reformation. As Christians failed to think biblically about all of life, they were unable to withstand either the new philosophies gaining ground in the universities or deal effectively with the changing social conditions of the Industrial Revolution. By the 20th century, American Christians saw the “height” of Christian activism as banning alcohol while at the same time affirming a woman’s right to vote. Both ideas were unmitigated disasters; God has not allowed the civil magistrate to outlaw wine and God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim 2:11ff). But by ignoring God’s law, American Christians both destroyed their own credibility (the Prohibition era is STILL a matter of public ridicule and repealing prohibition set the legal precedence for pornography, sodomy and the acceptance of other moral failures) and the integrity of own families.

In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.

Doug Phillips Sets the Standard for Family Integrated Church

A Good Idea At Risk Of Breeding Legalism

Among the other things that Doug Phillips promotes through The Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries is “Family Integrated Church.” Doug Phillips originally founded the “Uniting Church and Family,” a website and annual conference for training patriarchs to start their own churches, often home churches. This idea, which he originally “borrowed” from Eric Wallace’s book “Uniting Church and Home,” was initially headed up by John Thompson. The name was eventually changed to the National Center for Family Integrated Churches and is currently headed up by Doug’s friend, Scott Brown.

Just what is a family- or age-integrated church? What makes it different from a traditional church with age-segregated programs for adolescents, teens, college-age, adults, etc.? Is it a rejection of Sunday School and youth groups? Are family-integrated churches typically only for homeschoolers? Are they all the same? Is this a new denomination? Is Doug Phillips the new pope of this movement? Do you have to have a personal invitation to get in? And what in the world do you do at a family-integrated church, since there aren’t any programs?

Several of my commenters have asked me these and other questions. I’ve also been asked to write an article describing what the family-integrated church looks like. In order to adequately address all these questions, I’ll probably have to write more than one article. For this first article, I thought what I would do is describe two different family-integrated churches, based upon my own extensive personal experiences with them: Boerne Christian Assembly and Living Water Fellowship.

First, I’ll share my own personal experiences in the family-integrated church that we were members of for five years, Boerne Christian Assembly, pastored by Doug Phillips. Next I’ll share my experiences with Living Water Fellowship, pastored by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler. The comment section is open for others to share their own experiences, both good and bad.

On the whole, I think that the family-integrated church movement started out as a good thing. I believe that it began with good intentions. One of the reasons it came about was that men like Doug Phillips wanted to address some of the deficiencies appearing in more traditional “programmatic” churches. However, over time, I’ve noticed a troubling trend in the family-integrated church movement. Much like “Patriarchy,” the FIC movement has often proven itself to be legalistic and divisive. I’ve heard numerous reports of it even causing church splits. I’ve also heard that there are smaller churches with limited facilities that embrace the FIC model simply because their limited facilities prevent their being able to have Sunday School classes and other church programs. So they call themselves “family-integrated” merely because that’s what they’ve always had to do anyway.

With this first article on the family-integrated church, however, I’ll limit myself to my personal experiences of what it was like being in an FIC. I have many fond memories of our time at BCA, and I hope that comes out in this article. However, I’ve also come to see that there were many problems, inconsistencies, and even hypocrisies, and that too will be discussed in this article.

The first issue I shall address is the impression that at least some FICs give that they’re not particularly open and welcoming of “outsiders.” Some have gotten the impression that in order to be welcome in an FIC, you first have to meet a certain set of criteria. The criteria may often include:

  • Homeschool only
  • Patriarchy
  • No women working outside the home
  • No daughters in college
  • Full-quiver
  • Dress code: women in dresses only (sometimes with headcoverings), men in suit and tie only
  • Courtship only

Those who don’t meet the criteria may be permitted to attend, at least for a time. However, they will often be made to feel that they don’t fit in, and that will also be reinforced from the teachings in the pulpit. They will be expected to conform. Image is very important in many FICs. I might also add to the list of criteria — “family only.” By this I mean that a divorced woman would probably be made to feel uncomfortable in many FICs, even if she had divorced for completely biblical reasons. Again, this is an “image” thing, and divorcees wouldn’t fit the image. Likewise, a college girl, especially if living away from home, wouldn’t fit the image.

Based upon my Doug Phillips’ story, and my prior descriptions of Boerne Christian Assembly, several people have gotten the impression that Boerne Christian Assembly is a “by invitation-only” church. That isn’t exactly the case, although I can certainly understand why so many people would have that impression. My own experience was such that I could not find out any information about BCA without a prior invitation. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that BCA is by invitation only. Practically speaking though, if one of the BCA members doesn’t first extend an invitation to a prospective visitor, it’s highly unlikely that they would ever find their way to BCA at all.

Doug Phillips maintains an extensive list of family-integrated churches on his Vision Forum Ministries website, with a current figure of 524 churches listed there. However, you won’t find BCA nor any of the other churches in what we BCA members called “the community,” the four churches in the San Antonio area that had all come out of BCA, listed there. I always found it odd that Doug wouldn’t list his own church with an organization that he so strongly promotes. So unless you’re extended an invitation to attend, from a practical standpoint, it would make it nearly impossible to find BCA. Even BCA’s own web site provides no contact information or directions to the church. This is a very odd practice indeed for a church to have a web site with no contact information, or even a list of church officers. Indeed, the primary purpose of the BCA web site appears to be as a blog site for posting articles in response to my own articles. Doug Phillips himself told us that he wanted to keep BCA “small.” Failing to provide contact information is certainly a useful way of discouraging church growth.

As he speaks around the country, Doug Phillips often mentions the family-integrated church, and he implies that Boerne Christian Assembly is the “model” church for Vision Forum’s “Family Integrated Churches.” Most people find out about BCA because they hear Doug speak somewhere and find out that he also pastors a church. So they call or email Vision Forum to find out how they might attend BCA, or perhaps they already know someone who attends BCA and ask if they, too, can attend. With such a system in place, it would be easy for people to get the impression that BCA is a “by invitation only” church.

Upon arrival at BCA on a typical Sunday morning, after a lovely drive through the country, you will arrive at what looks like a Hollywood set for “Little House on the Prairie.” The tiny, white, country church has a huge grassy yard with several picnic tables under the oak trees. Across the street is a one room schoolhouse, which hasn’t been used for school for many years. Down the road is Little Joshua Creek, where we all went for baptisms, full immersion-style. Most men wear suits or sport coats. Most of the women wear very modest, long and full dresses. To visitors, it must seem as if they are stepping back in time.

As we’d arrive Sunday mornings, everyone is busy bringing their crockpots into the annex building in preparation for the “pot-providence” (we weren’t allowed to use certain words like “luck,” therefore no “potluck”) that would convene after the service. Many families drove an hour or more each Sunday, so it wasn’t uncommon to see a line forming at the outhouse prior to the church bell tolling at 10:30 a.m. Inside the church building, pews fill the very tiny room, from front to back, and wall to wall, with just enough room down the middle aisle to add a folding chair to the end of each row. Once you were in your pew you needed to plan on remaining there for the duration of the service, which generally lasted several hours (if not put on a schedule, Doug can be very long-winded). So if you needed to get up for any reason, it could prove to be quite a challenge squeezing through the tightly-packed pews. Each family was jammed very tightly into a pew. Large families are common at BCA, so some families took up two full pews. Tightly packed, the church holds about 125 people.

Church services at BCA usually began with about 30 minutes of singing hymns. We would often have several homeschooled young people playing instruments such as flutes, violins, or other stringed instruments. We always had a piano player and some of them were quite good. Three different men took turns leading the worship time. One young man, fresh out of Bill Gothard’s ATI and Alert, would give us the history of at least one hymn we sang each week. Another man, when he was leading worship, would pick one hymn each week to ask the men for biblical support for what was found in the lyrics. The men were on the spot to find Bible verses on the spur of the moment, as they never knew which hymn he would ask for verses for. After a while, I found myself really searching the text of each hymn, wondering what verses this hymn came from. We would usually sing one psalm from the psalter as well. Sometimes Doug Phillips would then lead us in singing Psalm 100, Puritan-style. He would sing a line and we would repeat it back to him. It was really old-fashioned, but I loved that part. Worship was a time of great joy at BCA, as everyone fully participated and sang with their whole heart.

We would have a short announcement time afterward, and it always began with, “We believe in a plurality of elders.” I could never understand that part since we only had one elder for several years, Doug Phillips, and even Doug was only in attendance about once a month at that time. As time went on we saw even less of him. Then we introduced our guests or, should I say, the men introduced the guests.

The men took turns giving the sermon. For most of the time I was at BCA from 2000 until the beginning of 2005, we heard expository preaching through I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles. If Doug was preaching, he might preach on the current topic he was wanting to promote at Vision Forum. They recorded those sermons and then they were sold through Vision Forum. All sermons were recorded free for church members. Depending on who was preaching, the sermon was generally one to two hours in length, followed by up to an hour for the “discussion of the men.” This was my favorite time, even though I wasn’t allowed to participate. The men were allowed to ask questions of the preacher regarding the sermon. Charity was stressed at all times, so if a point of disagreement came up, it was expected that it be handled in a gentlemanly fashion.

For several years, “discussion of the men” was a great time of iron sharpening iron; but around the time of the 2004 elections, the atmosphere of this discussion began to change into a mutual self-admiration club, with the men generally just congratulating one another on a great sermon. This deterioration was a great disappointment to me. It seemed that this small amount of accountability was losing ground. This discussion time was also open for the men to bring up any other subject they wanted to discuss, although this didn’t happen very often. It was also an opportunity for the men to share what they learned from God’s Word that week, what they taught their families during family worship time, or to share a hymn or read some Scripture. Doug strongly encouraged these aspects of the men’s discussion time, but they rarely had anything of this sort to share.

Next came the Lord’s Supper, preceded by the second sermon of the day. One of the men would talk about some aspect of communion, generally lasting about fifteen minutes in length. Communion was limited to those who had been baptized as believers, full immersion-style. Sometimes the men passed the elements down each row, but later on, the fathers usually went forward and got communion for their whole family. The grape juice was served in medium-sized Dixie cups that the whole family could share. The men would take a chunk of matzoh to share with their family as well. It was left up to the men to decide who takes communion in their family. If the father was absent or if a woman didn’t have a husband, one of her sons could bring her communion, even if the boy hadn’t been baptized and wasn’t old enough to take communion himself. If there were no males in the family, one of the deacons would serve the woman communion. If you were not participating in taking communion, it was quite obvious to the whole congregation.

The following hour was for prayer requests and prayer. Every person in every family (except Doug Phillips) came to church almost every single Sunday, unless they were sick or out of town, so this was a time for everyone to get know each family a little better. We knew details of every sickness, updates on difficult situations, and prayed for many outside the congregation as well. This was often a time of just reporting on how God was Providential in our lives that week. Again, the men (and boys) were allowed to speak during the prayer request time. If a woman had a prayer request, she could write it down and give it to another man to read. Then the men all took turns praying for all the requests. The service ended with the Doxology.

There was an annex building next door to the church where all the women would immediately gravitate to get the “pot providence” lunch ready. Visitors were allowed to go first and everyone went through the line as families. There were several picnic tables set up outside (the weather in Texas is nice enough to eat outside almost year round) which were built by some of the boys. There were several tables set up inside as well. Some families ate together, but many didn’t. This was a time when many of the young ladies would take other ladies’ babies and take care of them and feed them, if need be, for the rest of the day. Some mothers wanted a day off and they were glad for the help. Some mothers, however, wanted their older children to take care of the younger children, so the moms could have a day off as well. I thought my children worked hard all week and deserved a day off, so I chose to take care of Alicia, my youngest, myself. My daughter Natasha took care of Honor Phillips nearly every Sunday for three years.

After eating, the children would mostly play outside for the rest of the day. Balls and sports were not allowed on the Sabbath, so the children had to be creative in how they used their time. They made up games and sometimes would bring activities to do together. Some of the young ladies would read books to the younger children or just hang out with the children, trying to keep some kind of order. The adults and other young people would mostly fellowship for the rest of the day. Women were strongly discouraged from discussing theology with men at BCA, although I often did with those men who were willing to do so. While the men would often discuss theology and points of doctrine, the women usually talked about sewing and cooking and child training, when we weren’t talking about how to be more submissive. It was sometimes frustrating to me that the women didn’t even want to talk about homeschooling methods. I almost never felt challenged or stimulated in my thinking during these fellowship times. I usually felt as if I had to park my brain on Sundays. We often wouldn’t leave church until around 5 p.m. Before leaving, we would all pitch in and help clean up.

For a couple years, however, we were given one hour to eat and clean up and then we would separate into a men’s meeting and a ladies’ meeting. The children were free to join us or continue playing, unsupervised. I don’t really know what the men did, other than talk about Scripture and church business. The women would discuss making plans to take meals to those who needed them. However, we also had to first obtain our husband’s permission, so quite often our meal planning didn’t get very far. We would sign up for various clean up duties. Then we would usually talk about how to be a Titus 2 woman or a submissive wife. No matter what the topic was, that was always the angle. We studied Titus 2, word by word. We talked about how “non-normative” Abigail and Deborah and other women in the Bible were. Sometimes women would read passages from books such as “The Excellent Wife.”

Since there was an apparent lack of hospitality among church members during the week (we certainly experienced this), we studied a hospitality book. After we finished the book, we didn’t seem to have much more hospitality than we had before. It wasn’t that hospitality never happened at BCA; it did — a lot — if you were in the right circles. There were certain families that fellowshipped with one another on a regular basis, like we did with the Shorts. But there were other families who never got invited to other members’ homes. If you wanted to eat with the Phillips, you had to be in their inner circle. During the week, however, the women and children often got together for homeschool-type activities and fellowship. Some of these were formal groups and co-ops, but often we just got together with friends.

We did have lots of group activities, however, where everyone was invited. While these do count as showing hospitality and having fellowship, it’s not the same as having just one other family other for dinner. We had lots of baby showers, we had big Fourth of July events, we got together for big events at Doug’s home, often revolving around special visitors. Some people have remarked that some of the events at Doug’s home for his VIPs were just a way of showing off.

A couple events that I especially remember were the “Dinosaur Party,” where Doug showed a National Geographic film about dinosaurs, pausing every few seconds to ask questions such as “Were you there? How do you know what color the dinosaur was? Did you see it change from a bird to a dinosaur?” etc. This picture to the left is when the men got together at the beginning of the year to read the Bible for a whole day. That is my son, Joshua, taking his turn at reading. We had a big party with the DeRosas after they had worked on the Allosaur skull for a while. We had a big party when the Guenther family came to visit from Germany. They talked to us about how extremely difficult it is to homeschool in Germany, legally or otherwise. They worked with HSLDA to set up a kind of legal foundation to help homeschoolers in Germany. As long as Doug hosted these events, nearly the whole church attended.

The Epstein family liked to celebrate the biblical Feasts at that time, and we also invited the whole church several times a year for these Feasts. Everyone came at least once, except the Phillips family. BCA has very much a “not invented here” mentality. Having a successful event meant that you either had to be Doug Phillips, or you had to be part of Doug Phillips’ inner circle. If Doug didn’t come up with the idea, or if Doug didn’t personally endorse the idea, the event generally wasn’t much of a success.

“Family integrated” means keeping families together for the duration of the service. This makes for some interesting challenges now and then. Each family did this differently. Some families worked hard at training their children to sit still for the three to four hour service each week. Others chose to take their children out if they got noisy. This usually took two different forms. Sometimes the mothers would take their babies or young children next door to the annex to feed them or just let them play. Sometimes the older children would take their siblings next door as well. There was no way to hear the sermon while over there, so the women would often sit around and chat while the children played or ate. This was not considered or called a “nursery,” as family-integrated churches don’t have nurseries. And then there were the families that just gave their babies and young children to other people to take care of for them during the service. Beall Phillips, for instance, gave Honor to Natasha to take care of, not just during the service, but for the whole day every Sunday. I used this as an opportunity to teach Natasha how to train babies and toddlers. Honor was a very well-behaved baby while he was in Natasha’s care and we trained him to sit quietly throughout the service.

Family integrated churches are opposed to church “programs,” “age segregation,” and “dividing families.” “Family integrated” implies keeping the family together for the Sunday morning worship service, as well as other church functions. But practically speaking that isn’t often the case, as we experienced at BCA. It was quite common that husbands were divided from wives, such as the “men’s meeting” and “ladies’ meeting.” Children were also often divided from their parents, especially if they couldn’t remain still and quiet throughout a three to four hour service; and the reality is that there are very few babies and toddlers that can. So they would be taken out of the service, often to be taken care of by members of other families. BCA didn’t have an official “nursery” with officially designated “nursery workers.” But practically speaking, if you walked over to the annex building any Sunday, that’s what you saw.

Although there were no rules for being a part of BCA, per se, it was the unwritten rules that were the invisible foundation. It was not a requirement to homeschool, but homeschooling was preached from the pulpit nearly every Sunday. If you didn’t homeschool, you would have felt very uncomfortable at BCA. It was not a requirement for women to never work outside the home, but being a keeper at home was constantly talked about, both formally and informally. If you worked outside the home you would have been made to feel very uncomfortable at BCA (the one exception was that some of the women were permitted to work at Vision Forum, although they apparently were never “hired”). There were no rules about what to wear, but if you are a lady and you don’t wear long, full dresses, you are going to feel terribly out of place. If you visit more than once and you aren’t wearing prairie-muffin dresses, there is at least one woman who will take you aside to teach you how to dress “appropriately.”

There were no rules about how you spent your time during the week or what kinds of activities you participated in, but most families did not participate in any activities outside of BCA-sponsored activities. Our family participated in community activities on a very regular basis and we were always disappointed that others from BCA did not enjoy these activities as well. The unwritten rules even extended to certain words that were not allowed, such as “luck” (as in potluck) and “deviled eggs” (they should be “angel eggs”). As one visitor recently put it, and as I heard from several visitors, “We only visited there one time and felt such an oppression that we knew we had to flee.”

BCA does not have church membership, but they do have a covenant, which in some ways is even more binding than traditional church membership. This covenant was not in place until BCA was about three years old. At that time, the men got together to study the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, which they had to agree with before they could sign the covenant. On Covenant Sunday, Doug preached a message on why covenants were biblical. While we can all agree that covenants are indeed biblical, many people did not see that God was telling us to covenant with one another in that way as a church body and many families left that Sunday. Those men who agreed to sign the covenant all came up to front, one by one, and signed a large scroll-like document with the written covenant at the top and lots of blank space for all the men’s signatures at the bottom, similar to the Declaration of Independence. The man’s signature bound the whole family, although the wives didn’t even know what the beliefs of the church were, unless their husbands chose to share that with them. The women weren’t permitted to read the Covenant, although Doug did read it to the whole congregation. This is consistent with Doug’s view that women shouldn’t be permitted to vote. They were just expected to go along with whatever their husbands decided, even though they may not be permitted to even know the details of what their husbands determined for the entire family.

There are lots of young singles at BCA. Most of these twenty-somethings still live with their parents. A number of young men work at Vision Forum. Some live with other families and some live on their own. When a young lady was asked, “What do you do?”, every young lady was expected to answer, “I serve my father.” What that means in real life is that she lived at home, and cooked, cleaned, and helped with child care, either for her own family or for another family with lots of young children. It was considered quite prestigious to especially be able to do this for the Phillips family. While young men were allowed to work, most of them either worked at home, with their fathers, or for Doug Phillips. Getting a college education for a young man meant doing it by correspondence or through distance learning. None of the young men actually attended college. With approximately 125 people at BCA, about thirty or so were of marriageable age. Yet, weddings were few and far between. Courtship was emphasized and often talked about at BCA. Yet in spite the numerous eligible singles, we never saw much in the way of courtship happening. Perhaps it wasn’t encouraged enough in a practical way because the young ladies were considered too much of a valuable commodity in taking care of other people’s children?

Most people in the church were what we would call “like-minded.” We had the same doctrine, the same lifestyle, the same values, the same convictions. We spent lots of time together, not only on Sundays, but often throughout the week, in various church activities. So with so many eligible young people, we would have expected lots of weddings to take place. But, sadly, there were very few. In the five years we were at BCA, with an attendance peaking at 250 when BCA was about three years old, there was only one wedding within the church and only a couple more who married someone outside the church. Year after year, these young people continue to remain single. Why? Are their personal standards too high?

BCA was a legalistic environment. I have noticed with legalists that when we start with what we perceive to be a “biblical principle,” that principle tends to grow into a “biblical conviction” over time. That conviction grows until it reaches the level of “sin” if not followed exactly. At this point, the details of this conviction begin to become more and more defined, until what started as a good principle is now a long list of dos and don’ts. I have watched this process happen with many young people as well, with the detailed list of rules becoming very prevalent in their lives at an extremely young age. As they grow, they become unwilling to change at all. They are unwilling to make different choices in life in order to accommodate a potential spouse. The list of requirements becomes so extremely tight that it is nearly impossible to find a suitable mate. So we continued to see large numbers of single young people at BCA, year after year, with the number growing each year with more reaching marriageable age than those getting married each year. I still believe that courtship is much “safer” than what so many young people encounter in the dating scene. However, I do have to wonder why, if it’s a “biblical principle,” it isn’t working out any better in a church pastored by one of its leading promoters.

Not all family-integrated churches are alike, however, just as there are many differences among all other types of churches. Even in our like-minded “community” of churches that were all off-shoots of BCA, there are many differences. Since we attended Living Water Fellowship for a while as well, this is a good church to show some of the many differences.

LWF is much more “contemporary,” particularly in its liturgy and form of worship. After we all brought food in for the potluck afterward (and yes, we were free to call it a “potluck”), we began with about 30 minutes of electric guitars and drums and contemporary Christian music. Many of the women and children also participated in a circle of Davidic dance in the back of the school gymnasium, where we met for services. Men were invited to participate, but most were reluctant to do so. Davidic dance is a form of dance that is supposedly patterned after how the Israelites in the Bible, such as Miriam and David, danced to the Lord.

LWF did not have a set pattern of worship after this. There were always announcements, sometimes of classes or Bible studies or prayer times, many of which were often for certain ages or men or women only, or just for couples. They weren’t as concerned about always keeping the family together all the time. Sometimes, Little Bear Wheeler or one of the elders would give a testimony of something God had done in their life that week. Sometimes, other members would have an opportunity to talk about something God was doing in their lives as well. This was not a random testimony time, but usually was planned ahead of time. There were also times when Little Bear would ask someone to speak about something in particular on the spur of the moment, such as when he asked Mark to speak about how God was dealing with his anger. Both men and women were allowed to speak during this time. This did not happen every Sunday, but it did happen often.

Usually, one of the four elders would then give a sermon (LWF believed in and practiced a true plurality of elders). Sometimes it was topical, sometimes it was expository. Little Bear often used video clips or Power Point to embellish his sermons. We also had many guest preachers/missionaries, something which was almost non-existent at BCA. Communion was once a month at LWF, while it was every Sunday at BCA. It was very short and sweet, with each person being served a pre-packaged communion cup of grape juice with a little wafer in a plastic package as the lid for the cup. Everyone was able to decide for themselves if they wanted to take communion. Baptisms took place in the swimming pool at the home next door, which belonged to one of the attendees. I don’t remember any occasion for sharing prayer requests; I think the elders would just announce if there were any needs, which they also list on their website. They did announce prayer requests via email as well. We ended with a short prayer time and another song before getting the potluck lunch prepared.

Since LWF meets in a large gymnasium, there was plenty of room in the back for moms with noisy children or babies. You would often see moms pushing strollers around in the back during the sermon or maybe nursing their babies, but they were always able to listen to the sermon. We were also able to use the school lunch tables for eating our Sunday lunch, so everyone helped put away all the folding chairs from the service and set up everything for lunch. We tried to leave one end of the gym open for the kids to play basketball when they were done eating. It wasn’t unusual to have a ball come flying through your plate at lunchtime! And it soon became quite noisy with approximately 200 people all eating and talking and playing ball. Sometimes, the older girls would organize activities for the younger children. I remember that all the children got together one Sunday and made homemade Mother’s Day cards for all the moms. Some of the young ladies helped the little ones and my disabled daughter make cards as well. There were buckets of toys for the children to play with and there were always children practicing “Heart and Soul” on the piano to add to the delightful cacophony amidst hours of fellowship.

LWF does not believe in membership or signing church covenants. There is no statement of faith that I am aware of. In fact, although at least two of the elders are ordained, one with the Assemblies of God denomination, they don’t have a set of doctrines that I know of. The teaching leans heavily toward Arminianism and dispensationalism. Some families claim to be Reformed; however, I have some doubts that they even understand what “Reformed” means. Although there are many like-minded people at LWF, practicing things like homeschooling and affirming stay-at-home moms, there never seemed to be an emphasis on it. It is just something that most of us naturally did, but not something that we felt obligated by the elders to do, or that we even frequently talked about, the way we did at BCA. It’s entirely possible that there were some who did not homeschool and that there were some women who worked outside the home, at least part-time. College was never frowned on, for either girls or boys. Large families (“full-quiver”) were not idolized, as they were at BCA. Dress was varied. There were just as many women who came to church in jeans and t-shirts as those who wore “modest” dresses. There was no dress code and, for the most part, dress was not an issue.

The four elders made it a point to “smell like the sheep.” I would spend time talking with, and even eating with at least one, if not more, of the four elders and their wives, on any given Sunday. The elders made themselves available. The elders didn’t act like anyone special. They spent time greeting and fellowshipping with everyone who came to LWF. I remember one Sunday when I was sitting at a table with the elders and deacons and a couple other women. We were all discussing theology. I remember even openly disagreeing with their position, but they didn’t condemn me or make me feel uncomfortable for doing so. It was such a joy to be included in meaningful discussions — and with men no less! LWF seemed more “Complementarian” rather than Patriarchal.

These elders were also available day or night. Little Bear and Al both called Mark nearly every single day while we attended there. When there were serious problems, I could call those men even in the middle of the night. I remember one occasion when I was in much fear at home. I called Al (Little Bear was out of town) and he told us to come over in an hour. When we arrived at around 8 p.m., the other elders and their wives were there as well, all prepared to help us, with only an hour’s notice. They stayed with us until midnight that night. They also immediately got us into marriage counseling, with two elders and their wives and another couple who was trained in marriage counseling, meeting with us and another couple every week at Little Bear’s home.

Relationships were a little different at LWF as well. Men and women and children of all ages were able to mingle freely and fellowship with one another. The youth, however, naturally gravitated toward one another, and although there was not an official “youth” group, they definitely hung out together on Sundays, much the way that kids would at any regular church, complete with all the typical bickerings and jealousies. Even though LWF holds itself out as a family-integrated church, in many ways LWF was just a “regular” church, where just about anyone would feel welcome. LWF lacked any of the legalism that we experienced at BCA.

BCA and LWF represent for me two different extremes of the family-integrated church movement. The one was legalistic, authoritarian, and all about image. The other was about grace, with caring and nurturing shepherds, and not at all concerned about image. Looking back on it now, it seems very odd that these two very different churches could be in “community” with one another, especially considering the two very different theologies represented as well.

One of my concerns with the family-integrated church movement is that there are probably far too many of the legalistic churches involved, and too few of the “grace” churches. In fact, by its very nature, the family-integrated church movement tends to attract the former, and the NCFIC’s own Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family is representative of that. The “Confession” is judgmental and condemning of non-FICs. In my next article on the family-integrated church, I hope to address some of those issues.

Doug Phillips Refuses To Hire Women At Vision Forum

But If Doug Phillips Says He Doesn’t Hire Women, Then What Are All Those Females Doing Working At Vision Forum?

Doug Phillips has a policy against hiring women employees. In fact, he’s privately boasted to various men, “I don’t hire women.” If you ask him why he doesn’t hire women, you’re likely to get a very Bill Gothard-like response about the sin of females being out from under the “umbrella of authority” of their husbands or fathers.

Doug Phillips has often been heard to say, “Your wife is your helpmeet, and not another man’s.” What he means by this is that if a wife, or even a daughter, is employed by “another man,” then she becomes that man’s helpmeet. Doug Phillips has also been heard to say, “Too many problems with having women in the workplace.”

Most people wouldn’t be aware of Doug’s anti-female hiring policies. After all, even though he’s privately quite proud of himself for it, it’s still not something that he’d probably want to advertise.

Doug Phillips knows that women are the primary readers of his Vision Forum catalog, and women place most of the orders from his catalog. Just imagine what might happen if he had a statement in the Vision Forum catalog, “Vision Forum is an all male employee business and does not hire females.”

Even though many of the women who patronize Vision Forum know that Doug Phillips is one of the chief spokesmen for the Patriarchy movement in America today, I seriously doubt that many of them are aware of Doug’s anti-female hiring policies. I think it only reasonable that this become common knowledge.

However, if you ever happen to visit The Vision Forum, don’t expect to see only males working there. In spite of what Doug Phillips privately boasts to various male colleagues and friends, you will regularly see female workers at The Vision Forum. They’re just not thought of by Doug as “employees.” In this way Doug gets to boast to fellow Patriarchs that he doesn’t “hire females,” and yet he still gets the benefit of their very competent labor. With such “straining at a gnat but swallowing a camel” thinking, Doug Phillips epitomizes the very reason why Jesus said, “Woe unto you lawyers.”

So if there are women workers at Vision Forum, but they’re not classified as “employees,” what are they? Some are unpaid volunteers. Others, however, are paid. They’re probably just not paid directly. Doug probably pays their husbands for their wives’ and daughters’ labor, or he makes some other arrangements so that he doesn’t have to pay them directly. That way Doug gets to say that he doesn’t hire women. This is just another expression of Doug’s Phariseeism — his Gothardite hyper-patriarchy.

Being a Pharisee can be challenging. It’s hard juggling all those legalistic balls and not dropping any. It becomes especially hard when Doug suddenly finds himself needing a bunch of additional workers. For Vision Forum, this happens very predictably, every year. Vision Forum’s busiest time of year is the Christmas season. Doug himself doesn’t celebrate Christmas. In fact, he disdains Christmas. He calls it a “Catholic holiday.” Doug hates Catholics in some ways even more than he hates pagans, atheists and feminists. When we were members of Boerne Christian Assembly we often heard Doug express his contempt for Catholics. This has never dissuaded him, though, from going all out in promoting this “Catholic holiday,” at least in the commercial sense.

Christmas for Doug isn’t a time to celebrate our Savior’s birth, but it is a time to celebrate other things, like, for instance, being able to rake in a big pile of cash. Christmas is big business, and in order to make that big business flow smoothly, and keep those shipments flying out the door, Doug has to hire a lot of extra help. Where does he get that help from? I’ll share that part a little later.

Several years ago I noticed the very obvious need that Doug had for additional workers to cover the Christmas season. Just like any other retail mail order business, Vision Forum’s Christmas-season business suddenly skyrockets, starting immediately after Thanksgiving. I wasn’t impressed at all with how Doug was addressing that short-term labor need. In fact, it appeared to me that the way that he went about addressing that labor need was a public image disaster just waiting to happen. So I made a suggestion to him: Organize home school families in the San Antonio area to come in and cover the short-term need. To me this made perfect sense. It would be a true win-win, and just about any of the work that needed doing could be easily accomplished by some home school families.

Doug is supposedly a big proponent of internships, cottage industry, family businesses and entrepreneurialism. He even offers an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp. What better way for Doug to promote his entrepreneurial internship vision than to hire home school kids and offer them a seasonal internship program at Vision Forum? In some cases it might be wise to also hire some moms, so that they could also supervise the kids.

To me it seemed like a great idea, but Doug hated it. Why did Doug hate it? For the same reason he hates having women employees. In Doug’s Gothardite Patriarchal view, females should never be out from under the “umbrella of authority” of their husbands; or if they don’t have a husband, then out from under the “authority umbrella” of their fathers. Hiring home school kids, supervised by their mothers, apparently violates this Gothard/Phillips principle. Doug preaches that it is a sin for a female to work outside the home, because in doing so she’s coming out from under the authority of her “head.” “Wives and daughters shouldn’t leave the home to be under the authority of another man. Females must remain under the authority of their husbands or fathers.” Doug could have hired just home school boys and then hired a home school dad to supervise them, but he wouldn’t consider doing even that.

So what about those women who do work at Vision Forum? Why, in Doug’s view, are they not out from under their “authority umbrellas”? Apparently the reason why is because some of them are probably just unpaid volunteers. It’s not clear to me why that logically should make any difference, but apparently it’s logical in Doug’s mind. Even the Phillips’ family nannies, maids, and maintenance workers are often unpaid volunteers. Several young ladies have worked in the Phillips’ home for many years, unpaid. From all accounts, most of these young ladies are anything but financially well off. Sometimes, though, Doug does pay their travel expenses to send them on a Faith and Freedom Tour with him and his family, so they can take care of his children there as well.

One poor family has the mother, daughter, and son all volunteering at the Phillips’ home on a regular basis. Doug appears more than pleased to daily “oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy” (Deut 24:14) and have them come out from under their “authority umbrella” to come and help raise Doug’s children. There are also other women who work for Doug as unpaid volunteers. They do so at Vision Forum’s facilities. Just like with his unpaid poor nannies and maids, Doug sees no inconsistencies between what he preaches and what he practices.

Some of the other women who work at Vision Forum are the wives and daughters of male Vision Forum employees. Rather than legally hiring the women, Doug probably pays their husbands or fathers for the time that they work there. In Doug’s mind, those women don’t work for him — they’re working for their husbands or fathers, who in turn work for Doug. In order for that to make any sense, the first thing you’ll have to do is disregard the fact that most, if not all of those women, aren’t working for their husbands or fathers at all. In most cases their husbands or fathers don’t supervise them at all. In most, if not all cases, those women are clear on the opposite side of the building and their husbands or fathers may not see them at all, but perhaps at the lunch break.

Back now to the “Catholic holiday” season. How does Doug cope with the sudden demand for additional labor? He hires employees through a Temporary Agency. Does Doug get to tell the Temp Agency to only send him male workers? No, that would be job discrimination. Doug could get into big trouble for that. Does he get to tell the Temp Agency, “I don’t want any Catholics or pagans. We’re a Christian business, so I only want Baptists”? No, again, that would job discrimination. Doug could get into trouble, so he doesn’t do that.

Christmas season at Vision Forum is truly a sight to behold. The warehouse is full of foul-mouthed, scantily-clad, non-Christian males and females processing orders for this so-called family-friendly Christian business. Break times and lunch time are an even more disturbing sight. Many of the temp workers go out into the alley in back of Vision Forum’s building to puff their cigarettes. After a few weeks, the alley literally piles up with cigarette butts and even empty beer bottles.

To me it’s very sad that Doug never took my advice about hiring home school kids instead of temps from a Temp Agency. Perhaps he rejected the idea only because it came from a woman? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is just another one of the many examples of Doug Phillips’ hypocrisy.

A Father’s Day Poem

by Doug Phillips

The Patriarch

More noble than the valiant deeds of shining knights of yore,
More powerful than earthly plights that make the rich man poor,
More kingly than a royal throne or a lion with his pride,
Is he whose babes sleep well at night sure Daddy will provide.

There is a spirit in this land and Jezebel’s her name.
She’s calling you to leave your home for power, fun, and fame.
She wants your wife, your children too — she’ll never compromise,
Until your house is torn in two by listening to her lies.

But though a hundred thousand million men may fall prey to her lures,
And wives en masse leave home in search of “more fulfilling” chores,
Though preachers praise, and friends embrace, her pagan plan of death,
Stand strong and quit you like a man with every blessed breath.

Stand strong and rise, O man of God, to meet this noble call,
The battle is not new you see, it’s been here since the Fall.

Your wife is your helpmeet, my friend, and not another man’s,
So care for her and keep her far from Mistress Jezi’s plans.
Protect, provide, and give to her your undivided life,
This is the dear one of your youth, your precious bride, your wife.

And rally to those tiny ones who trust you for their care —
A lifetime spent discipling them’s a lifetime pure and rare.
For when they put their hand in yours and know a Daddy’s love,
You’re showing them a picture of the Father from above.

Look not toward worldly goal or gain, or for your liberty,
Look only into their sweet eyes to find your ministry.
Devote your heart and sacrifice and make your manly mark —
There is none so great as he who finds his call as patriarch.

Posted by Doug Phillips on June 19, 2005

Home School Leaders Warned About Doug Phillips

The following letter went out to a number of home school leaders across the nation and abroad. A copy was also sent to Doug Phillips asking for his response.

We know that there are many more leaders, home school groups, and home school families out there who need to hear this, so if you would like to forward this to them yourself, please feel free (just be sure the links are included). Or you can send us their email address and we would be glad to send it to them.

Dear Home School Leader,

I’ve been a Christian home educator for twelve years now and have been president of a local home school group for seven years. I’ve been active in the home school community for quite some time and have helped to coordinate numerous home school functions and co-ops in the San Antonio, Texas area and have worked at many homeschool conventions.

Home schoolers have worked very hard for a number of years to earn a good reputation for Christian home education. Our proven track record of educational excellence has largely overcome the criticisms of the government educrats. However, we need to remain ever vigilant to maintain that good reputation. If our reputation is undermined by any among us who have divisive and potentially harmful agendas, we stand to lose much.

It’s vital that the most prominent of our home school leadership be men and women of impeccable reputation and strong moral character. We’re very concerned that one of the most prominent of our home education leaders runs the risk of causing the entire home school movement great damage. We speak of Douglas W. Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum. We believe that Doug Phillips’ intentions may be good for his attempts to shed light on a number of wrongs that have crept into the Christian home, the church, and society on the whole, in recent decades. However, a number of Doug Phillips’ methods and ambitions for correcting these problems are seriously flawed. Rather than working to bring about reformation, Doug Phillips embraces opinions and methods which are reactionary, harmful and even potentially dangerous to the family and the church.

Home schoolers are already considered by many to be “radicals” and “extremists.” Of course, we know that most Christian home educators are actually very moderate and do their best to “live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). However, Doug Phillips, even by many Christian home schooling standards, is very much an extremist. We’ve known Doug personally for many years and have spent much time studying and analyzing his opinions, as well as his actions. As a result, we’ve become increasingly concerned that Doug Phillips may be far more a liability than an asset to the Christian home school movement.

There is much to show how unhealthy and problematic Doug’s views are, and in this brief email we hope to demonstrate just a few of those. Our goal is to warn you as a Christian home school leader so that you can take any precautionary steps you deem appropriate to minimize any adverse impact to your own family and home school organization. In order to protect the Christian home school movement, we believe it is important that Doug Phillips be isolated and relegated to the outer fringes where he properly belongs, and where he can do little harm. We believe that it is risky for your organization to be identifying yourself with Doug Phillips, and to give him a platform from which he can promote his views. Please now allow us to explain why.

Doug Phillips has just expressed his views publicly on the massacre at Virginia Tech in an article entitled On The Horror At Virginia Tech. Though Doug makes some valid theological observations, his timing couldn’t have been worse. Doug is taking considerable heat over how insensitive and calloused his remarks appear to be. Most troubling is the fact that Doug is publicly advocating arming students. This is a classic example of Doug’s reactionary thinking. Because gun control advocates are calling for further gun control legislation, Doug reacts by saying the solution is to permit students to bring guns into the classroom. This isn’t to say that he wants all students armed, though. In Doug’s patriarchal world, only male students would be armed.

Doug Phillips is known as a significant leader of “Patriarchy,” a movement which seeks to restore homes and churches to an idyllic antebellum image, a time of chivalrous gentlemen and ladies in fluffy dresses. However, just below the surface of this superficial “Gone With The Wind” veneer lurks a far less honorable side. Doug Phillips often challenges radical feminism, and he’s right to do so. However, the solution to radical feminism isn’t a shift to the opposite extreme. Phillips’ views aren’t “complementarian,” or even just patriarchal, but rather hyper-patriarchal, a world in which women are effectively treated as doormats and not permitted to have any opinions of their own. Phillips’ patriarchy vision is an autocratic pseudo-feudal world in which women are completely dominated by husbands, and daughters are deprived of higher education and careers of any kind.

Doug Phillips’ jaded view of women is no more clearly evidenced than the way that he directs his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, as its self-appointed and unordained pastor and sole elder. At BCA, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34) is interpreted in such an extreme manner that women aren’t even permitted to introduce guests, women aren’t permitted to make prayer requests, and women aren’t even permitted to get their own communion (if her husband isn’t present, she must be served by another man, or one of her own sons, even if that son is too young to partake of communion himself). We were members of Doug’s church for five years, and so our comments about this are based on personal experience.

Doug Phillips takes his low opinion of women into the marriage counseling setting as well. Where marital problems are brought to his attention, he’s known to avoid any judicious examination of underlying issues, but rather immediately side entirely with the husband and seek out any excuse to blame the wife for any problems. We know this not only because of what’s been reported to us, but because of what we personally experienced. Some of Phillips’ more common questions to husbands of troubled marriages are: “Isn’t your wife a dripping faucet and a nag?” “Isn’t your wife rebellious?” “Isn’t your wife a Jezebel?” In Doug Phillips’ world, the wife is always to blame. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”

Considering the fact that women quite often are doing the majority of the practical teaching at home, and also making many of the decisions about home school curriculum, we consider it remarkable that Doug Phillips evidences all the tendencies of a misogynist. Since women are probably making many of the decisions about what materials to order from Vision Forum, and women make up such a large percentage of the home school leadership, one would think that Doug Phillips would want to treat women with much more regard than he does.

Doug Phillips is an attorney and claims to have a biblical world view about law and justice. He even sponsors an annual law conference. This is one of the reasons that we recently exposed Doug on the internet for having conducted a Kangaroo Court in his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly. For those who will take the time to carefully examine the facts, they will come away deeply troubled by the huge disparity between what Doug publicly espouses about justice versus what he actually practices when given the opportunity to exercise justice himself. Without any due process whatsoever, Doug Phillips unjustly excommunicated us for sins that we’d already repented of, as well as sins for which there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support. In fact, one of Doug’s charges against Jen was over a sin that she had committed years before she had even become a Christian, and years after she had repented of that sin! The Lord Jesus forgave her of that sin over seventeen years ago, but apparently Doug Phillips’ standards of forgiveness are far higher than the Lord’s.

After leaving Boerne Christian Assembly, we were welcomed into a church led by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler. Pastor Wheeler’s church is a “sister church” to BCA. Aside from being a pastor, Little Bear Wheeler is a prominent home school leader and the founder of Mantle Ministries. Doug and Little Bear were close personal friends and have spoken from the podium at many of the same home school conferences and retreats. Little Bear Wheeler worked diligently for fourteen months to reconcile our relationship to Doug Phillips and BCA, but Doug refused to make an appearance for any of the numerous meetings that Little Bear arranged between us. Doug rebuffed all efforts at reconciliation. Worse yet, Doug retaliated against Little Bear by terminating their long friendship, and he even removed most, if not all, Mantle Ministries products from the Vision Forum catalog. For his kindness toward us, Doug Phillips shunned Little Bear Wheeler.

Doug Phillips is a significant leader in the “Family Integrated Church” movement. Many churches do indeed segregate family members by age and pressure parents to have their children participate in youth groups which, though often consistent with the values of public school parents, are often at odds with the values of “family integrated” home school parents. While well intentioned, the family integrated church movement, much like the patriarchy movement, has too often shown itself to be extremist, self-righteous and divisive. Rather than seeking to reform churches from within and wean them from being “programmatic,” the Family Integrated Church movement has become a “program” in itself and has caused a number of church splits. Though Doug Phillips has spoken on “how leave a church honorably,” much of the fruit of the Family Integrated Church movement has been anything but honorable.

Most troubling in its ramifications for how it could adversely impact the cause of Christian education is Doug Phillips’ video documentary “Raising The Allosaur.” Some have referred to this video as a “fakeumentary.” Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that many of the claims made by Phillips in “Raising The Allosaur” are blatant fabrications. Phillips has never been able to provide any reasonable explanations for the glaring inconsistencies and serious allegations that have been put to him as a result of his video production, masquerading as a documentary. Phillips suffered so much negative public exposure for his fakeumentary that he withdrew it from the Vision Forum catalog, without any public explanation, and he did so in spite of the fact that “Raising The Allosaur” had been a very lucrative product for Vision Forum. Phillips’ fakeumentary has greatly harmed the cause of creationism. If even just a few of the allegations against this video are true, then Doug Phillips is guilty of perpetrating a huge fraud against many thousands of Christians, and especially against Christian home schoolers (in the video Phillips falsely credits home schoolers as having been responsible for finding the allosaur). Phillips owes the Christian public either an explanation or an apology. However, after many such demands, he has completely evaded doing either one. There are numerous other issues that call into question Doug Phillips’ integrity, but “Raising The Allosaur” may be the most glaring example yet.

Perhaps the single greatest risk of all though, in associating with Doug Phillips, are the numerous concerns expressed that he may be a closet racist. We ourselves are not prepared to make such an allegation. We believe that some of these allegations are based on the logical fallacy of “guilt by association.” The problem for Doug, though, is that some of the things that he has said and written do tend to cast strong suspicion on his views of race. Many of Doug Phillips’ personal heroes are notorious racists. As just one example, Doug has written a poem about Robert L. Dabney in which he says, “Hail Dabney, defender of the South!” This is an obvious reference to Dabney’s book, “A Defense Of Virginia and the South.” If you’ve read Dabney’s book, you already know that it was written for one purpose only — as a defense of Southern slavery. Dabney was the South’s strongest apologist for slavery. Dabney had an extremely low view of Blacks, believing that their only appropriate station in life was in perpetual servitude to Whites. For Doug Phillips to “Hail Dabney!” seems extremely problematic.

Doug has left himself wide open to scrutiny on the question of racism. This isn’t to say that we personally believe that Doug is a racist. We do believe, however, that Doug has been very foolish by using his close personal friends to make “racist” allegations against others, based on nothing but guilt by association, when his own associations with known racists are so problematic. We haven’t and we won’t accuse Doug being a racist. However, we believe that the allegations against him of racism are potentially very dangerous to the home school movement.

We would ask that you carefully consider the ramifications of your organization’s relationship with Doug Phillips, through his serving as a speaker at your conferences or otherwise, and the great harm that it could cause to not only your organization’s reputation, but to Christian home education in general, by promoting him and giving him a platform to advance his extremist views.

We recognize that some will choose to immediately dismiss our concerns on the assumption that this is some kind of “personal vendetta motivated by unforgiveness and bitterness.” That’s simply not the case. We both worked for nearly two years to privately reconcile with Doug. We attempted to do so by going through appropriate ecclesiastical channels with not just one, but two different different churches and their elders in our area. In both cases, Doug refused their offers of reconciliation. We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of the Christian home school movement.

Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Yours for Christian Education,

Mark and Jennifer Epstein

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*Our concern about Doug Phillips’ blog article on Virginia Tech is not that Doug is a proponent of the Second Amendment. We are, too. But we also believe that Doug should be consistent. What Doug advocates is a disparity, based on gender. Men are free to carry guns anywhere, including to their college classes, and they do so allegedly to protect the poor, helpless women, while not allowing for women to carry guns for self-defense as well. What would happen if a public university was full of armed men and unarmed women? What would happen if everyone was armed and a debate ensued in a classroom? How long before the first gun came out? Or maybe we have a problem with the hypocrisy of Doug espousing that only the young men be armed, when we see this video of his daughter?

Does Doug Phillips Have a Mother?

“It’s a son’s task in life to spread the fame and the glory of his father in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ spread the fame and the glory of His Father in heaven.”

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A friend recently asked me this seemingly odd question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” I had to laugh because I understood immediately what my friend was really asking me. Doesn’t everyone have a mother? Yes, and of course Doug Phillips has a mother. Why then does Doug so seldom ever speak of his mother, or even publicly acknowledge her?

Doug Phillips is known for his teachings about honor, a subject which he seems to take extremely seriously. It’s also a subject that he’s used to make tremendous profits from.

The subject of honor is much needed in both the world and the church today. In fact, before I sat under Doug’s teaching and preaching, I didn’t know much at all about honor and the 5th Commandment. It was a foreign concept to me. I learned a lot about honor from Doug Phillips’ teaching and from what I saw lived out in his life… at least with his father. My friend is well justified, though, in asking about Doug Phillips’ mother. Doug seldom ever mentions her, whereas he routinely “spread the fame and the glory of his father.”

There’s no question that our culture has lost interest in honoring parents, elders, and others that Scripture instructs us to honor. Doug Phillips is rightly challenging a culture of dishonor. However, sometimes in their enthusiasm to right a wrong, Christian leaders have a tendency to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. In other words, they become extremists. I believe that is the case with at least some of Doug’s teachings, and this includes what he teaches regarding honor. When does honor become adulation? When does honor place practically as much value on men as on God or His Word? When does honor cross the line into becoming idolatry?

Doug has set a good example for us in showing us how we should honor our military veterans, our fathers, our pastors and teachers, and others who have positively influenced our lives. But I had to cringe when Doug teamed up with his father, Howard Phillips, and the elder and younger Sprouls, for a conference on honoring parents last May. It was bad enough that Doug Phillips was obviously honoring a man who had just been recently defrocked by the RPCGA for ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny, tax fraud, breaking his ordination vows, and other serious things. Doug Phillips took a public stand with RC Sproul, Jr as a speaker when RC, Jr had just been severely disciplined by his presbytery. Rather than submitting to the RPCGA, Sproul publicly dishonored the Presbyterian elders that he vowed to submit to by publicly disparaging them.

I looked at my own excommunication by Doug Phillips and saw that he had required that ALL Christians not only treat me as a heathen and a publican, but never to even eat with me, as Doug would consider that a sin. Doug Phillips expected everyone to uphold what he tried to pawn off as a biblical excommunication. But did he follow that same biblical pattern when his own good friend, RC Sproul Jr, was justly disciplined and that he’s never repented of? At least RC, Jr. admitted to some of the accusations leveled against him. But he has not repented, and he is currently preaching in open rebellion to the presbytery that disciplined him. But Doug Phillips chose to honor a defrocked minister, and he insists that others honor him too.

Then Doug Phillips went on to speak about honoring his father. Anyone who knows the least little bit about Doug Phillips will agree that Doug obviously honors his father. No one can dispute that. And we can learn some things from his example. But has that sense of honor gone a little overboard? Does Doug Phillips go on and on and on in talking about his father to the point of making those around him uncomfortable? Has he elevated his father to a level that is above honor? Does it border on idolatry? When I compare his honor of his father to that of his mother, I certainly have to wonder.

Which brings me back to my friend’s question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” Well, of course he has a mother, but what my friend was really asking was if Doug Phillips preaches so much about the fifth commandment, and we see his constant and extreme honor of his father, did he forget the other half of the commandment? Why don’t we see Doug honor his mother?

If you look through Doug’s blog, for instance, you will see Doug write about his father over and over and over again. That’s good. But, now go look for his mother. If I remember correctly, Doug has only mentioned her three times. I may be off in my total, but not by much. Why the disparity?

From personal experience, I remember several occasions when Doug’s father would attend BCA. Although he had been several times previously, and everyone already knew who Howard Phillips was, Doug always made a point of introducing his father each time anyway. It was never a nice, simple introduction, but was usually an elaborate occasion, another opportunity for Doug to “honor” his father. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t seen how he “honored” his mother when she came to visit. I only remember her coming to visit once while I was there (she may have come on a Sunday when I was not in attendance; I am not saying that she only came just once.) But I do clearly remember the lack of any introduction of his mother that Sunday. That is how I remember Doug “honoring” his mother.

When I went on a tour with Doug Phillips once, and his mother was in attendance, I do not recall him paying her any special attention, and this is in stark contrast to the considerable attention that he never fails to give his father. Whenever we had the opportunity to observe Doug’s interaction with his parents it was always apparent that Doug’s treatment of his father was vastly different from that toward his mother.

Again, why? Does Doug’s mother not deserve as much honor as his father? Did she do something horrible to Doug growing up? Doesn’t the fifth commandment include both father and mother? I could speculate, but I’d rather not do that. However, something is terribly wrong and even hypocritical about the glaring disparity between the way Doug honors his father and the way he doesn’t honor his mother.

One thing is obvious though; if Doug Phillips were one to honor his mother, it’s unlikely that anyone would ever ask the question, “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?”

Doug Phillips: Muzzling Women

Well, most of the them, at least.

(Start with chapter one, if you are new here.)

On our second Sunday at Boerne Christian Assembly, Doug and Beall Phillips introduced us to a special guest – Jennie Chancey. After the meeting of the church (the worship service), Doug invited Jennie Chancey to formally meet with all the women and talk to them about college. Jennie Chancey began relating why it was so evil for women and girls to go to college, especially outside the home. She related some of her own experiences at King College, where she received a BA in English, but in a way that was intended to warn others not to let their daughters attend institutes of higher learning. On her bio page, (since removed) very near the top, Jennie Chancey lists her educational qualifications for the business she runs out of her home. I guess that degree wasn’t so bad after all!

I was bold enough to ask the obvious: “What do unwed young ladies do all day?” Jennie’s answer, and the answer of every young lady in that congregation was, “Serve her father.” Some had family businesses and that was a great answer. They were working hard all day, learning skills, and helping the family to earn a living. But I know many that don’t fall into that category. Don’t get me wrong, nearly all the young ladies at Boerne Christian Assembly are wonderful young ladies, and would make great stay-at-home wives. But are they prepared to homeschool sons someday? How are their sons going to learn to do great things for the Lord if the moms aren’t educated enough to be able to teach them?

Beall Phillips also has a bachelor’s degree in education from William and Mary College, where she met Doug. From there, she attended law school classes with Doug Phillips at George Mason. I understand she did quite well. I asked her once if she ever regretted her higher education and she said that God can use every experience we have in life. I am grateful for my degree and am currently studying (dare I say it?) to be a naturopath. Doug did tell me once that I would make a great lawyer; maybe I’ll take him up on that suggestion as well!

Several months later, we had another guest, Jeff Pollard, come to speak to us about his new book, “The Public Undressing of America.” Since I was very new to the study of modesty, I asked Doug Phillips if the women of the church could meet together after the service to discuss the practicalities of the sermon and how it related directly to us. Doug’s terse answer was, “That would not be biblical. Women are to be silent in the church.” As some of you may have guessed by now, I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I reminded him that it was going to be after the service, like Jennie Chancey had done earlier. But, no dice.

(Some of these stories will be repeats for those who have read Ministry Watchman, but I want to put it all together in one place, so bear with me as I retell my whole story.)

Boerne Christian Assembly tends to have some extreme views regarding what it means for women to be silent in the church. I’ve had several occasions where I wished I could introduce visitors who were friends or family. When my mom came to visit once, and my husband was out of town on business, another man tried to introduce her to the congregation, except that he didn’t know who she was. He couldn’t ask her, because women are to be silent in the church. Flustered, he finally introduced her as “Jen’s mother.”

A similar situation happened when my dad came from Scotland, and since he was wearing a kilt, and one of the men tried to introduce him as one of the Scottish Covenanters. My father used to be a Baptist pastor before he turned atheist, and he knows both church history and Scottish history extremely well, so he was not at all pleased by that label.

On another occasion, I had some friends come to visit. Although I was friends with the whole family, but Mark had never met them. Mark was there that day, however, so he introduced them (leaning over to ask me their names). Afterward, the husband (friend) told me how uncomfortable he was when Mark introduced them and he didn’t even know them.

Prayer requests are also a time for women to be silent in Boerne Christian Assembly. This was a major chunk of the service, sometimes lasting up to an hour. The men give all the prayer requests. If my husband wasn’t there, my son could give it, even though he wasn’t old enough to take communion. If you don’t have a husband or a son there, you can write it out and give it to another man to read to the whole congregation. After a few attempts at that, I finally just gave up and would tell my friends about my prayer request privately. It wasn’t worth the humiliation.

So, women being silent in the church at Boerne Christian Assembly includes not being able to introduce your own guests, not being able to ask for prayer yourself, not being able to have a discussion after the service, and not being able to make announcements – unless your name is Jennie Chancey.

Join me tomorrow for the first Kangaroo Court.

(For a humorous version of this episode, watch this video.)

Women, Know Your Limits!