No bearing on the validity of Biblical Patriarchy

Libby Anne wonders if Vision Forum is collapsing altogether.

There has been no public announcement, but the Vision Forum Ministries site now includes only the resignation statements and the Vision Forum Inc. site is no longer selling anything, or even listing any products. This suggests to me that Vision Forum has collapsed entirely, and that the corporate wing is disappearing in addition to the ministry wing.

If this complete collapse is the case, as it appears, this is an extremely positive change. Vision Forum has been probably THE pillar of the Christian Patriarchy movement for the past decade, and is now gone. This is not to say that Christian Patriarchy is gone. It is not. There are still organizations like Bill Gothard’s ATI and No Greater Joy Ministries, not to mention leaders like Kevin Swanson, Doug Wilson, and R. C. Sproul Jr. Christian Patriarchy will go on, but Vision Forum was a major pillar that was extremely effective in promoting this ideology throughout the Christian homeschool community, and that pillar is now gone.

I didn’t even know it had partly collapsed, so I looked for background.

Julie Ingersoll provides background at the Huffington Post in November.

There are important and disturbing developments in the Doug Phillips scandal that has rocked the Christian home school movement. As I noted in my earlier post, Phillips’ carefully parsed initial resignation statement admitting to an “inappropriate relationship” raised more questions than it answered.

Now reports are circulating that the scandal may well have multiple levels including claims that the “relationship” was with a nanny, lasted between six and 10 years, and likely began when she was in her late teens. This would make biblical patriarchy’s emphasis on authority combined with the way in which girls are intentionally kept vulnerable, dependent and submissive, crucially important. The young woman may or may not have been technically old enough to consent in Texas, but the context of biblical patriarchy would make this an abuse of power if not a crime.

Well yes, and that’s the whole point of the enterprise. Patriarchy is the core of it. Big up men and small down women, and there’s your heaven on earth – for people who like that sort of thing.

So to that earlier post that Ingersoll linked to.

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.”

Aka let’s throw out all those modern ideas about equality and freedom and human rights and go back to the way people lived in Palestine three thousand years ago.

Phillips’ infidelity is more than a private matter because, by design, his Biblical Patriarchy makes women vulnerable such that even with a husband repeatedly violating his marriage vows, practically speaking, a wife has no options.

The Family, in Biblical Patriarchy, is the primary institution through which God has delegated authority entirely to men. Women are to be “in submission in all things,” first to their fathers and then to husbands, chosen by fathers. The purpose of the family is the exercise of the patriarch’s dominion, especially through procreation. Women are to bear as many children as is possible. Anything short of that is deemed selfishness, accommodation with the “culture of death” and rebellion against God’s will.

Education is solely a family concern and no other institution may intervene. That they oppose even with the smallest of regulations preventing child abuse is a point pressed by Phillips’ home schooling opponents.

Education for girls within Biblical Patriarchy is focused on training them for domestic duties. Vision Forum’s catalogs, Beautiful Girlhood Collection and the All American Boy’s Adventure Catalog, stated purpose is to teach “Biblical” gender norms: meekness, submissiveness and dependency for girls; chivalry, curiosity and adventurousness for boys.

What does that look like? A recipe for molding all women into helpless dependents or slaves, and men into their permanent bosses.

What could possibly go wrong?





  1. says

    Same old same old. Back around 1981, when I was still paying attention to the Evangelical scene, there was a scandal when Bill Gothard’s brother was found to be having an affair with a female ministry employee (actually multiple, IIRC). Knowing what I knew about Gothard’s authoritarian teachings, it didn’t surprise me in the least. Outsourcing one’s conscience is just a Really Bad Idea, and holding as dogma that one should do so is fertile ground for abuses. (Seriously, isn’t that part of what motivated the Protestant Reformation in the first place?)

  2. Omar Puhleez says

    “What could possibly go wrong?”

    Well, clearly, something has.

    Perhaps a glint of a dawning of reason somewhere has raised the possibility in a mind or two that the world might not be flat, and that hypocritical self-interest might lie behind the lotfy theological urgings that women be examples unto all of selflessness.

    Clearly the wall insulation needs checking. Something is diffusing in from the heathen world out there. And if they get even a glimpse of Paree, are you ever gonna keep them down on the farm again?

  3. quixote says

    This garbage goes on across the whole fundiegelical sphere. (Or maybe I should say flat circle.) Some years ago I met a friend of a friend who had just found out that her two daughters had been molested by their father for years, including a whole side business of posting porn of it on the interwebz.

    Their church — he was something like a deacon or some such — told her she should “forgive” him since he’d “repented,” and that it would be sinful to get a divorce and, and, and, the whole nine yards.

    That was when I found out that’s the normal advice in those places.

    All I can think is that it means there are no limits to what people will do to themselves to belong to a group.

    (The only bit of good news is she did divorce the chunk of slime, but she stayed in her church. Go figure.)

  4. Dunc says

    “Chivalry” is a “Biblical gender norm” now? It’s wasn’t invented until the 11th century!

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