If you didn’t see the news over the weekend, Doug Phillips of Vision Forum confessed to an inappropriate relationship with a woman not his wife. If you aren’t familiar with all this, just do a search and you’ll find plenty of reaction.
Way back in 2006 I took a public stand against Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. Coming out against VF was not a popular move. At the time I had a well-read blog. But when I said that there were some serious problems with Vision Forum and the teachings coming out of there, my numbers took a hit. I’ve never regretted taking that stand and I’d do it again in heartbeat.
Doug Phillips is no stranger to controversy or accusations that he is heavy handed in the way he deals with people he believes to be his enemy. For some truly stunning examples, see this lengthy explanation on the Well-Trained Mind forum or Jens Gems. If you want to read more, Karen has done so much to expose the problems with patriarchy, Vision Forum, etc. She has also started a new series on this.
So who is to blame for Doug Phillips’ resignation and the current mess? How could this have been avoided?
Obviously Doug himself is partially to blame. That’s obvious and I’m not going to spend my time there. Others have analyzed him to death this weekend. I’m moving on from that.
But where else does the blame fall?
Way back when all of the controversy around the Epsteins was going on, David and I were involved in some discussions online. We have NEVER forgotten one of them and we still refer to it almost seven years later. In the midst of the discussion where the ideas of DP and VF were taking a beating at the hand of those of us actually trying to think logically and based on Scripture, a man said, “We need Doug Phillips to speak about this.” Spunky of Spunky Homeschool was also involved in the discussion. She jumped in and said, “No, we don’t need to hear from Doug Phillips so we know what to think. We need to be Bereans and study this for ourselves.”
A good portion of the blame for this situation goes to every follower of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum who never took the time to be a Berean. Who took in what DP said hook, line and sinker. Who got sucked in by the gorgeous catalog and the swanky conferences. Who looked to Doug Phillips and his message of the perfect family instead of Jesus Christ and His message of grace, repentance and forgiveness. The average VF customer who was not a Berean is partially to blame. The only reason VF and DP have the influence they do today is because people kept giving them the dollars.
Some of the blame goes to the men around him who chose to fear Doug rather than fear God. Unless the men around him are so spiritually and emotionally bankrupt that they truly cannot tell right from wrong, they HAD to have known that the way DP and VF did business was not right. There are too many stories of ruined lives to explain them ALL away as being the problem of the other people. Did DP deal with some difficult people? I’m sure he did. And I’m sure that at least a few times he was probably in the right. But this many times? No way. And so the men who surround him, work with him, speak with him, etc. are to blame for this situation as well. Perhaps if they had tried to check him at some point, this would not have happened.
I also put some of the blame on conservative evangelical leaders who did not call him out or distance themselves from him. My personal theory is that most of them are unwilling to do so because they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to be on anyone’s bad side because that can mean fewer speaking opportunities, fewer book endorsements and so on. Burning bridges isn’t wise if you have or desire a national platform. And so they looked the other way.
I also think some of the conservative evangelical leaders did not call out DP and VF because the rally around complementarianism has been so strong the past couple of years that they are unwilling to undermine anyone who is in their big tent of complementarianism. Did they think DP was a bit extreme? Probably. But their dislike of egalitarianism is so strong that they are willing to look the other way even when one of their own is a bit nutty in what he’s promoting. As long as he’s not an egalitarian, they’re going to just pretend everything is okay.
Which brings me to the women.
Are the women to blame?
Which women are to blame?
Are the women to blame? It is hard for me to say yes, but yes. They must shoulder at least a small portion of the responsibility for this situation.
His wife is in some small ways responsible. She made the choice along the way to go along with his teachings. She made the choice to either look the other way or participate in the unChristlike way he treated others. She had a choice to look at Jesus or at her husband. She enabled him.
The woman he became involved with is partially to blame. She made the choice to respond to his advances (or she made the advances herself). She made the choice to continue to put herself in the situation where this unfaithfulness took place. Even if Phillips is her superior (employer, elder, etc.), she still had a choice. She had a choice to look at Jesus or look at Phillips.
But wait! Sallie, how can you say that? I thought this blog was about fighting for women? How can you blame the women? They didn’t have a choice. They are so indoctrinated that they don’t even know they have a choice to stand up to him or reject him.
And with that you have proved my point.
This entire system is toxic to women. Poison. Horrible. Oppressive. Wrong. Unbiblical. Evil.
Do you want more words?
Filthy. Destructive. Wasteful. Disgusting.
Do you want me to put them in all caps so I’m shouting?
THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS TOXIC. HORRIBLE. OPPRESSIVE. WRONG. UNBIBLICAL. EVIL.
Either the women are to blame or they are victims of a terrible situation.
Make a choice.
Either the women around him are partially to blame or they are victims of an incredibly unhealthy cultic theological system.
If you didn’t read it, go back and read that comment in the Well-Trained Mind forum. It is sickening. Disgusting. Vile. Horrific. How can anyone think that Jesus would treat women this way? These are not the ramblings of someone not in the know. These are well-established facts that have been public knowledge for a long time.
This is a system that destroys women. That denies them the very basics of personhood. It is a system that treats women like total dirt. Jesus would NEVER treat women like this. NEVER EVER.
You can’t have it both ways. Either the women are to blame or they are being spiritually abused inside a horrible, evil, disgusting cultic system.
And if I sound angry, it is because I am.
How many families have been destroyed in the past seven years because no one was willing to stand up to this man? How many young woman are still stuck at home with no life and no future because their parents listened to this man?
Other people spent the weekend expressing sympathy for his wife and family. Fine. Feel sorry for them. But right now I’m feeling angry and sorry for all the lives that were destroyed because this garbage spread year after year.
Think about how his children will suffer for this all you want. Fine. I’m sorry for his kids too.
But I’m even more sorry for all the young women (and men) who were shamed and vilified because they had an interest in someone of the opposite sex while the man promoting the shaming was apparently doing the same thing and still out there preaching against it.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry for every person who was turned off to Christ and Christianity because this garbage was forced down their throat.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry for every parent who provoked their children to such despair and anger with these teachings that they felt they had no choice but to flee their own family so they could have a life.
Yes, I’m angry. And if you’ve been paying attention, you should be angry too. This kind of stuff is horrible for what it does to people and their view of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
It sickens me when I read blogs written by women who escaped this garbage and now are atheists. It sickens me that this is their view of Jesus.
Jesus loved women. Women loved Jesus.
And it sickens me that people will still call VF today and order more of this garbage and destroy more lives.