Friday, November 08, 2013

Well That Didn't Take Long

Some circles of the religious social media world are a-twitter with news of yet another resignation by a prominent Christians figure. Just a little over a week ago Douglas Phillips, president of Vision ForumMinistries, announced that he had been involved in a sinful and inappropriate relationship with a woman who was not his wife and was stepping down as head of Vision Forum.

Phillips is fairly well known in homeschooling circles, especially among the more militant wing that is known for advocacy of not just homeschooling but often quiver-full views, "family integrated church" and a sense of homeschooling as a training ground to "take back America". Many homeschoolers get their catalogs and might know the name but the actual influence is far more limited than the detractors of homeschooling would like to admit.

Doug Phillips is also a prominent proponent of one narrowly defined version of "patriarchy" and that has made his fall into fodder for the small but vocal of people who see patriarchy as an evil. They didn't take long to show up on the internet crowing with delight over his fall from grace. Not content to wallow in Phillips own sham, they commenced to drawing a linkage between this event and patriarchy in general. Kind of goes like this....

Doug Phillips had a moral transgression

Doug Phillips is an advocate of one narrow interpretation of patriarchy

Therefore patriarchy in all its forms is evil

I am only slightly exaggerating. I stopped paying much attention to Phillips and Vision Forum a while ago. While much of what they teach is profitable, I think they also advocate for a vision of manhood that is more American than Christian, including an unhealthy obsession for all things militaristic. I don't homeschool my kids as a way to prepare a generation to retake America for Jesus by conquering the political, legal and cultural bastions of liberalism. I homeschool them because I think it is my responsibility as a parent to do so and because it provides them a Christian framework for their education. Having said that I find the attacks on him, and not so subtly anyone who holds to any views in common with him, quite disgusting. Too many Christians link to articles like this one from the secular Huffington Post to score points for their doctrinal camp, seemingly uncaring if the broad brush that they are painting with is unduly slandering untold numbers of other Christians. I find it unbecoming and outright ugly for Christians to unequally yoke themselves with unbelievers because they have a chip on their shoulders about "patriarchy". I have been guilty of doing some of the same in the past and where I have done so I apologize for it. For those who see this as a chance to score cheap gotcha points, please stop it. Now.

By all measures I can tell from a distance Doug is a brother in Christ in spite of some disagreements I have with him. He sinned and came clean about it in as proper a way as you can do with this sort of thing. It doesn't sound like a minor transgression and he is treating it as such. From what he says in his public announcement, he has taken the proper steps to deal with his sin which is now public, by private admission of sin to his wife and family, his church and his friends before going public. This would be a swell time to not try to score points using one man's error to paint an entire community of Christians with his sin. Believing in patriarchy, however that is defined, does not make all male Christians who hold to that into mean ogres who abuse their wives. Women who hold to patriarchy are not all mousy doormats suffering from theological Stockholm Syndrome. I am pretty sure that egalitarian dudes sin against their wives in the same way that Doug sinned against his. So please, for the sake of honesty and simple decency let's allow this to be handled where it needs to be handled, in his family and in his church. If you want to make a case against patriarchy, please feel free to do so from Scripture, not by playing "guilt by association" and engaging in the religious equivalent of tabloid journalism.

Thanks in advance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well balanced article.