Patriarchy Has Got to Go

Like most homeschoolers, my world overlapped with Doug Phillips. He found a much-too-welcome home among homeschool communities across the United States. Late last year he admitted to an affair, and yesterday the story broke that gave its dastardly details.

Vision Forum Ministries

You can read the entire WND article for yourself. In a nutshell, Phillips is being sued by his former nanny, someone he knew for over a decade and was very close to the Phillips family. Her lawyers have graphic details of Phillips forcing himself sexually, and Phillips’ lawyers are denying little of it, claiming “consensual” contact between adults.

For those of us in the Christian homeschool community, this is just as bad as guilty. Phillips is a married man and father of eight children. This behavior is inexcusable.

The courts will figure out what to do with Doug Phillips himself. I’m more curious with this thought: What will the homeschool movement do with Doug Phillips’ signature ideology of “patriarchy”?

Perhaps you’re new to this concept. Doug Phillips and his Vision Forum Ministries had a webpage “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” that many homeschoolers practiced to a tee. Though the page is now taken down, it is listed on Wikipedia. Biblical patriarchy have these tenets:

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order.
  • A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
  • Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
  • Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home”, the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.
  • God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.
  • Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection.

Surprised that homeschoolers would fall for this? Perhaps you’re defensive of some of this list. To tell you the truth, I’m not too surprised that patriarchy found a welcome home in the homeschooling movement. Homeschoolers by nature are non-conformists, and I like to think that is one of our greatest strengths. Problem is, we are sometimes found going overboard. Such is the case, at least, with patriarchy. 

I have witnessed patriarchy do a lot of damage to individual families, mine included. On a broader scale, patriarchy has done much harm to the homeschool movement itself. I confess: I was seduced by some of the tenets in the list above, and I’m having to wrestle through some of these harmful ideologies that I used to ascribe to.

If you were caught up in the Doug Phillips frenzy of patriarchy and are now coming to light that a lot of it was harmful, I encourage you to consider these five problems with the patriarchy ideology:

  1. God in a box. Read the list above and you read a very narrow, dogmatic view of God. Declaring God as solely (absolutely, literally, no-doubt-about-it) “masculine” is odd, really. He’s God. I find it just as odd as when feminists push the pronoun for God as “she.” Insisting on a gender for the creator of the universe is political, agenda-driven and theologically shallow. I find it offensive to those of us who find great value in the life-long journey of understanding God. Putting God into a box has got to go.
  2. Gender roles. Whenever patriarchs would speak of “gender roles,” they really meant “gender hierarchy.” Women could never lead, and in some patriarchal circles they couldn’t even speak. I know patriarchal families where women are quiet mice, hardly the great women I believe God wants them to be. How unfortunate. Women have great beauty in their femininity, and the so-called “biblical patriarchy” movement didn’t understand this at all. Gender hierarchy has got to go.
  3. Dominion. I’m becoming more and more repulsed at the use of the patriarchal idea of “dominion.” I have always took the biblical term as more of a conservationist view of addressing the environment (its root from Genesis 1:28). Doug Phillips took this verse and ran with it, declaring it his Christian duty to take over all areas of society, government and church culture. Phillips’ idea of “dominion” was an extreme abuse of Genesis 1:28 into whatever the patriarchy movement wanted. The idea of patriarchs literally taking over the world has got to go.
  4. Quiverfull. I have to give this one some serious thought; I have found myself caught up in the subculture of Quiverfull (the idea of “be fruitful and multiply”). I’m conflicted because on one hand, I don’t appreciate the idea of using reproduction as a means to seek dominion over the earth. But on the other hand, I have a house full of life and love (16 children, that is), a counter-cultural life that is awesome. I am sure there are many large families that do not subscribe to Phillips’ ideas that essentially take the love out of family and replaces it with a means to fulfill the “dominion.” I believe much of this idea has to go.
  5. Control. People within patriarchal communities don’t seem to realize how controlling the ideology is. Children (especially daughters) are expected to stay within the home until married. Phillips discouraged military service, employment, even missionary work outside of the fathers’ direct oversight. Mothers working outside the home was akin to moral failure. This narrow view of family dynamics when children became adults has got to go.

Like any cult, Doug Phillips carried just enough truth in his ideas to be seductive. In a strange way, Phillips’ moral failing is an opportunity for home educators to re-calibrate their focus, turning away from the harmful ideology of patriarchy on toward a more wholesome perspective of faith, family and fun.

I’d like that to settle in: Doug Phillips’ fall is an opportunity to focus on that which home educators should focus.

What that focus is is debatable, I suppose, but it certainly should not include patriarchy any longer.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • CindeeN

    You say, “I’m becoming more and more repulsed at the use of the biblical idea of ‘dominion.'” Why would you be repulsed at the use of the biblical idea of ANYTHING? Do you mean that you are repulsed by some people’s interpretation of dominion?

    • Genesis 1:28 is more of a conservationist view of how to treat the environment. Phillips took it to mean pretty much taking over the world. His view is not held by most biblical scholars, as I understand it.

    • Timothy Swanson

      Perhaps one should say the “biblical”(TM) view of anything. To quote the philosopher Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      The word “biblical”(TM) is used to mean “my particular proof-texted opinion of what the Bible means.”

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Good post. Just a note and feel free to delete this comment, if you like. In #2, gender “rolls” should be “roles.”

    • Thanks! Correction made.

    • texassa

      Mmmmm rolls.

  • Great post. I think the problem arises when we become dogmatic and begin forcing our experience and perception of God upon others. Several of the ideals the patriarchy movement was striving for start from the right place, they have just become tainted:
    * Dominion – It is good to carry forth the love and good news of the Kingdom. It is not good to carry forth legalism
    * Gender – The Bible looks favorably upon strong Male leaders. Leaders should be servants, not dictators. The Bible also suggests there is a role for strong Female leaders.
    * Quiverfull – A decision to honor God’s sovereignty of conception is good. A legalistic or greedy/prideful decision to eschew contraceptives is not.
    * Parental Authority / Responsibility – Fathers (and mothers) should love and care for their children, guiding them in righteousness. It is also good for children to honor and obey their parents. Exerting control over children for the sake of power is wrong. Our goal should be to train young minds to access the wisdom of the Creator – and in doing so releasing them from our flawed human wisdom.

    While the circumstances are rather unpleasant I am glad these pharisaical teachings are being exposed now rather than down the road – I trust the homeschool movement can recognize them for what they are and move on.

  • Andrew

    Chris, what’s the Bible’s alternative to patriarchy? Should husbands not exhibit servant leadership in their families? Should they not imitate Christ, who is described as the head of the Church, his bride, and who gave himself up for her? I guess I’m wondering whether its worth it to say “Patriarchy has to go” when we really mean that Doug Phillips’ (un)Biblical Patriarchy was very wrong.

    • I have a few thoughts for you to consider:

      (1) It would be easier to just blame Phillips, but his teachings are still alive and well. Many are questioning it, though, which is good.
      (2) The buzz phrases you’re using are mantras of the Patriarchy movement, not foundational verses of Scripture. If you do an honest study of the Bible you would find a stark difference between what the Word says and what Phillips preached.

      (3) Virtually all of Christendom agrees. Patriarchy is a fringe interpretation and application of scripture only applied in the most fundamental of religions (not far from radical Islam).

      • Andrew

        1) Chris, I’m only vaguely familiar with Phillips’ or any of the other Biblical Patriarchy movements, so I wasn’t quoting their buzz phrases intentionally.

        2) What do you mean when you say that “they are not foundational verses of scripture?” The things I wrote were directly Scriptural, taken from Ephesians 5 and I Peter 3. The idea of servant leadership is expressed in Ephesians 5 as “Husbands love your wives a Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her.” Both passages talk about the idea of headship and lordship. Can you point me to any verses in the new testament (or Old Testament) that are _more_ directly addressed to wives and husbands than these passages? I know that we have _both_ done an honest study of Scripture on these issues, and I know you are familiar with these passages, so I’m not questioning your understanding of these things–I’m just trying to make sure I understand where you are coming from.

        3) Do you have the numbers to back that up? I grew up in a very normal suburban Christian community where women worked and went to college, taught Sunday school, exhibited some spiritual leadership in their homes, and to me patriarchy has always just meant male headship in a family. To me, the question where Phillips and others went wrong is in their answer to the question, “how do we live out that headship scripturally,” not “is headship biblical.”

        Again, I’d ask, what is the Bible’s alternative?

        • What is the Bible’s alternative? That seems like a trick question. You’re not intending it so, I know, but it will inevitably get into a bumper-sticker war of bible verses that I find exhausting. Patriarchy advocates do this all the time, focusing on specific verses extrapolating entire ideologies from them.

          • Andrew

            Fair enough… I’m pretty sure we’re on the same side here. I disagree wholeheartedly with the extrapolations that people like Phillips and Gotthard make. I think you and I would agree that husbands should submit to the Bible instead of using it as a tool for power. But I just think that ultimately, submission to the Bible is going to result in some form of male headship, which fits the dictionary definition of the word Patriarchy. Maybe that definition is just unusable in this day and age.

          • Dean Butterfield

            It’s not a trick question – if what you define as Patriarchy is un-Biblical and not appropriate for Christian families or marriages, what should the Christian family and marriage look like? What is it’s structure? What roles do the wife and husband fulfill? What should the relationship between parent and child look like? Seems to me there is a lot of attacking going on here – some of it entirely justified!! – without presenting the appropriate, Biblical alternative. If you choose to answer, what is your broad-based Biblical support for it – not just 1 or 2 verses chosen from arbitrary chapters?

            • EMSoliDeoGloria

              From the beginning, he created them male and female and called them into a “one flesh” unity with each other.

    • Andrew, might I suggest a couple things. First, look at all the one another verses in Scripture. Consider how they apply to you in all your relationships, including between husbands and wives and parents and children. These are your true marching orders from the Word in order to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. If you concentrate on these, you will quickly see how far short the patriarchy paradigm falls from Scripture. Also, consider how to recognize a false teacher: http://www.thatmom.com/articles/are-they-true-or-false-teachers/

      • Andrew

        Karen, those are good thoughts, a word study on the “one anothers” of Scripture would be very enriching! The Patriarchy paradigm falls far short, agreed. I’m not advocating a paradigm, I’m just hoping we don’t throw out an important part of our vocabulary when we have no replacement. I don’t think we need the word “Patriarchy,” in order to live godly lives, but I do think that word can help us to imagine (and inspire our prayers for) a good vision for our families and our fathers/husbands. Perhaps my experience of the “good side” of patriarchy (my Grandfather’s humility, constancy, and faithfulness to his wife, children, and grandchildren have been the glue that has held together an otherwise broken family) has led me to wonder why people condemn patriarchy _per se_ when they could more carefully indict particular paradigms. I don’t think we have any other words that encompass the vision of immediate _and_ generational stability that “patriarchy” encompasses. (It is grievous that much, perhaps even most, of what calls itself “Biblical patriarchy” has created a false, suffocating imitation of stability, instead of the true stability of meek, Christ-like leadership.)

        Like, I said, I don’t think we should pursue patriarchy as an end. It would just be sad to lose that part of our vocabulary because some groups have co-opted it.

        • I appreciate your thoughts on your grandfather. My own heritage with the same testimony comes from my godly grandmother who is still revered by many who experienced her wise teachings and life. Interesting, isn’t it, how we both have the same wonderful legacy, one coming from a man and another from a woman!

          • Angie

            “coming from a man and another from a woman”: I think this explains the alternative Andrew is asking about. I can’t think of a word i.e. an “archy”, a system of rule by both father (male) and mother (female). The closest to this I can think of is co-regency which is what I think God established from the beginning. Male and females in a co-vice regency leveraging their strengths to fulfill the purposes of God.

    • Should husbands not exhibit servant leadership in their families?’ No text tells husbands to lead. See more here: http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/how-ofte-does-the-bible-say-men-should-be-the-heads-of-their-households/

      “Should they not imitate Christ, who is described as the head of the Church, his bride, and who gave himself up for her?”
      Every believer – man, woman or child, should imitate Christ. We should all give ourselves up for others. Giving yourself up for others does not equate patriarchy. Men leading equal patriarchy.

  • FutureLegacy

    A couple of years ago, a journalist from a large daily paper asked me, “”How can we stop people from abusing the privilege of this education while still leaving it an option for others?”

    Although the reporter never responded to my request for clarification and specific examples of abuse, I provided the following response:

    “Unfortunately, there is an undercurrent in public opinion expecting ‘perfection’ from homeschoolers, blaming any negative outcome or situation on the parent’s choice to educate their children at home. All the while, that same expectation of ‘perfection’ is not placed on parents who choose to have their children in an institutional setting. The tendency is to blame any negative results and heartache on homeschooling, when in reality, any graceless, loveless, undisciplined, or legalistic home, regardless of the manner/mode of education, has the potential for disastrous outcomes.”

    There will be a reaction by some to now dismiss or abandon homeschooling altogether due to equivocation with patriarchy. However, patriarchy does not define homeschooling and nor is it the dominant motivation.

    We wanted to insure that our children developed a lifelong love for learning and would grow into resourceful, independent thinkers with a passion for truth. Patriarchy can actually have the opposite effect: dependent thinking and loyalty to culture vs. truth.

    Patriarchy can also cultivate an “ownership” mentality of children.

    Our children are not our own. They have been entrusted to us for a very brief time to shepherd and disciple, hopefully more by example than admonition. Parents are to walk in humble reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ for wisdom, grace and love in carrying out that charge. We know we are going to fall short, just as Abraham knew there was no way neither he nor his progeny could keep the covenant. Shepherding our children keeps us ever mindful of our need for God’s unconditional grace and infinite mercy, and to be increasingly shaped into the likeness of Christ.

    We trust Him to be faithful to complete the work in the hearts of our children as they mature and go forth doing their part to fulfill the Great Commission.

  • (Adam) Reid Hall

    Thanks for speaking up about this Chris. I guess we’re kind of a post-patriarchy family. We’ve homeschooled for around 16 years and been open to as many children as God saw fit to bless us with. We’ve been part of family integrated churches and listened to all the VF audio, read the books, drank the kool-aid. Everything was fine – for me.

    I slowly started noticing distance building up between me and my beloved. I got more and more frustrated (code for angry). She kept trying to reform me by ‘submitting better.’ I turned inward. Trying to fix it by redoubling my efforts. I thought, “if only I could get everyone in the family to do this (whatever practice) everything would work.” I was so blind. I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t laying down my life.

    Finally, one day, the wheels fell off. My beautiful, gentle bride fired me. “I don’t want to be in your army. I don’t want to be your employee. I don’t want to be your assistant. I want to be one flesh. If that’s not what you want, leave.” I was in shock.

    We’re coming up on the three year anniversary of that day. I am not the same man I was. We’ve left the family integrated church we were in, gotten counseling, and loosened up.

    2x4s I’ve been whacked by:
    1. Leaders give life. They don’t drive. They don’t occupy a position. They don’t lord it over. They listen to people’s wants, needs and dreams. Then they help make those dreams come true. I thought I was leading. I was driving.

    2. I am the problem. The common denominator for all my problems is me. I was focusing on what I wanted everyone else to do. I wasn’t nurturing them to give them a safe place to belong and be the unique people God made them to be.

    3. Leaders lead. If I turn around and no one is following, it’s my fault. If I’m providing something worth following, people will follow. If not, I’ll be taking a walk. When my wife or daughters provide something worth following, people will follow. Leadership is not an office. It’s a verb and a state of being. If someone chooses to follow me, it’s their choice. My family owes me nothing.

    4. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus is finite. To the degree that we focus on anything other than the finished work of Christ, we diminish our attention to the only truth worth dying for. Homeschooling, quiverful, biblical family… Jesus didn’t die for that. Those things don’t have intrinsic power. The Gospel does.
    Just my two cents.

    • Wow, Adam. This is a really intense testimony! I share many of the sentiments, and I suppose I consider myself “post-patriarchy.” The LOVE IN THE HOUSE is much better on this side of things. =)

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      Right on, brother! I’m so grateful that after seeing the patriarchy growing up, my husband and I wanted a ‘one flesh’ unity relationship from the beginning. Marriage has been a joy for me… when I once feared it would be a prison…

      • (Adam) Reid Hall

        Wow! That’s awesome! I’d love to hear more about you guys story. Did you both grow up in patriarachy?
        How’d your family take it?

        • EMSoliDeoGloria

          My husband was homeschooled in a very sane (non-patriarichal) family. I was raised in a dysfunctional homeschool family on the edge of patriarchy but not really over the edge. Lower middle class, our problems were all secrets and everything looked great from the outside. We had lots of Gothard material, VF material, lots of all kinds of very fundamentalist homeschooling material, really.

          I didn’t think the patriarchal perspective was true but I struggled with fearing that it was for a long time. As much as I wanted a family, I decided that if all that was true, being who I am as a person, everyone would be better off if I stayed single. Exploring Scripture more closely in my 20s, I came to see that it didn’t actually say what they taught and that the real biblical emphasis regarding the essential nature of humanity is as “image-bearers,” created to display the communicable attributes of God to each other and in the world for the glory and pleasure of God. Marred by our own sinful rebellion, our ability to reflect the divine image has been greatly reduced, separating us from God and putting us in conflict with one another, including in our most intimate relationships. As believers, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. As we follow Christ and find our identity in Him, we become who we are – and were always supposed to be. These core theological truths helped me a great deal. Rather than men being made in the image of God and women in the image of men, we are both bearers of the divine image. Rather than men being called to be like Christ in authority and women to be like Christ in submission (as if the divine were bifurcated), we are simply to be conformed to the image of Christ. And the implications for marriage and for church family are staggering – we are called to oneness, to unity, to loving, leading, and serving TOGETHER.

          And that kind of marriage I thought really would be ‘two are better than one.’ Although my future husband and I came to unity on what we wanted in marriage – full partnership – I still feared marriage because of what I had seen growing up. But 4 years in, it’s been great. I love being married to my husband and think we make a wonderful team.

          As for how my family took it… Well, my family of origin fell apart so there really isn’t much to tell. The secrets, hidden abuse and alcoholism all caught up with us. The pressure to look perfect when you are falling apart on the inside is unsustainable. My dad died. My mom is a very unhealthy person. I’m very grateful for my husband’s family, who have generously welcomed me.

          God has been kind to me.

  • kewkew

    I’m sorry sir, you lost credibility in my eyes with your first point where you state, “Read the list above and you read a very narrow, dogmatic view of God. Declaring God as solely (absolutely, literally, no-doubt-about-it) “masculine” is odd, really. ” Why in the world would it be odd to think of God as masculine when Jesus himself calls him “Father?”
    I do not know how extreme Doug Phillips is, I do not know anything about him, but I do know that the Bible does say that the Father is the head of the home.

    • Odditea

      Language and context = Father

    • Timothy Swanson

      I find several problems with the concept of God as solely masculine.
      First, it ignores the many instances where God is described in feminine terms. Nursing us from his breast, the mother hen wishing to gather the chicks, etc. In all of our approaches to knowing the Divine, the best we can do is metaphor, relating what we know and experience to what we cannot fully know until we see him face to face. Ignoring the metaphors that don’t fit the gendered view of God isn’t good biblical interpretation.
      Second, the weight of church interpretive history has embraced the concept that God transcends human gender. He is spirit, and of a substance and nature unlike us, and not directly comparable to us. Hence, his “arms” and “eyes” are figures of speech, not literal descriptions of a bodily form. Thus, to impose a human gender distinction on the divine is to think that God is like us.
      Third, if God is masculine, male, then it follows logically that men are more in the image of God than women. They are by nature closer to the image of the Divine than women can ever be. (Actually, this is pretty explicitly believed within Christian Patriarchy. Men reflect the glory of God himself, women reflect the glory of male humans.) I cannot find a way to reconcile this view with any sort of equality of worth between men and women. If men are *inherently* more like God than women, they will, pretty much by definition, be superior. In contrast, to say that men and women are equally human, made equally in the image of God implies that they both equally reflect the image of the Divine. In other words, to the limited extent that we resemble God (made in his image), we resemble him equally, male or female.

    • There is good, conservative theology behind the statement that God is not male. Gender is part of the created order, not the nature of God (“male and female He created them”). God’s “image” is not gender, but rather the qualities revealed in Genesis 1-2 that make us different from animals and rocks, such as self-awareness, will, imagination, and creativity. God, in His infinite wisdom, uses the created order He imagined in eternity past to reveal to us what He is like–man, woman, husband, wife, marriage, family, children, adoption, inheritance all become analogical language for Him to describe His own nature, which is infinite and transcendent spirit, in a way that we as His finite and flesh-bound creatures can understand. Arguably, God’s infinite being is imbued with what our limited language would call masculine and feminine qualities, but these are only analogical descriptions of the reality of His otherwise incomprehensible nature. Just some initial thoughts on a very large and important topic.

    • prometheamoth

      Of COURSE your bible says the father is the head of the home. It is a bunch of stories and rules written by men. Your bible also condones slavery and concubines.

      • Tricia Johnson

        The Bible does not say that the father is the head of the home.

    • Tricia Johnson

      The Bible does not state that the father is the head of the home.

      • Vaughn Ohlman

        Not in those exact words, perhaps. It only says that his wife and his children are to obey him. Which is what most people *mean* by *head of the home*.

        • Tricia Johnson

          The Bible does not tell women to obey their husbands. It tells children to obey both parents, slashing any hopes of a patriarchal rule. If we look at what the Bible actually says, and not what men say it says, we find an entirely different take on this topic.The Bible teaches mutual submission in marriage.

          • Vaughn Ohlman

            Funny, my version seems to tell women to obey their husbands rather clearly. Let’s see:

            Tit 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, Tit 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

            The word translated ‘obedient to’ here is:

            G5293

            ὑποτάσσω

            hupotassō

            hoop-ot-as’-so

            From G5259 and G5021; to subordinate; reflexively to obey: – be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

            and then we have:

            1Pe 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 1Pe 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

            Which adds the words:

            G5219

            ὑπακούω

            hupakouō

            hoop-ak-oo’-o

            From G5259 and G191; to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority: – hearken, be obedient to, obey.

            and

            G2962

            κύριος

            kurios

            koo’-ree-os

            From κῦρος kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, that is, (as noun) controller; by implication Mr. (as a respectful title): – God, Lord, master, Sir.

            in addition to the word used above.

            • Tricia Johnson

              Yes, and keep in mind that this is given in the context of mutual submission in marriage. While Sarah called Abraham “lord” I would argue that she meant lord of herself when she did that. She was talking about him being lord of his estate. He was lord over his estate and she showed respect to that. I really did misspeak…..women are to obey their husbands and, of course, husbands are to obey their wives. What I should have said is that women do not have to obey men in general. The patriarchal system requires all women to obey all men; as though women are subjected to all men at all times.

              I was a victim of this thinking and nearly lost my daughter because of a pastor who practiced this thinking. He took what he thought was his authority over my life as my pastor to extremes and when I resisted his overtaking, he slandered my husband, publicly, as not having “control” over his family (meaning me). Well, my husband, wise man that he is, has never, ever tried to control me, nor would he.

              In the context of absolute obedience of wives to husbands, the patriarchal movement only focuses on wifely submission and not the required submission of husbands. It’s out of balance and many, many families are being literally torn apart because of this.

              I will have to look at the original Greek on those verses, again, since they are presented in general here. Thank you, though.

              • Vaughn Ohlman

                I will await your study of the Greek. I will also await your posting of a verse which tells husbands to obey their wives (hint: I will be waiting an infinitely long time).
                Sarah calling her husband ‘Lord’ was in the direct context of her obeying him. In the OT a husband is also called by the word ‘Ba’al’ which is elsewhere used for a god.
                I will also look forward to your exegesis of Jeremiah 35. Such a lot I have to look forward to.

                • Patriarchy = Ba’al worship. Interesting!

                  • Yep. Ba’al’s name means “husband” or “master” and God was opposed to Ba’al worship.

                • Tricia Johnson

                  No waiting on this one. I Corinthians 7:4 clearly states that “the husband does not have power of his own body, but the wife.” So, as much as he’s “the boss” of her, she is “the boss” of him. Also, Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another, in fhe fear of God.” Mutual submission.

                  Your lack of sympathy over my situation of nearly losing my daughter because of a pastor attempting to control my life is astounding.

                  Sarah called him lord as a way of showing respect to his position as lord of his estate. Abraham obeyed his wife on many, many occasions. Their submission was mutual.

                  Read your Bible without a male-dominant filter and you will find men submitting to women all over the place.

                  My husband of 35 years, also the father of our 8 children, is not afraid to practice mutual submission. Not too many are as grand as he in this area, clearly.

                  • Vaughn Ohlman

                    Oh, my, are we really going to get into I Cor 7?? Cool!!

                    First of all let’s quote the entire passage:

                    1Co 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 1Co 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 1Co 7:3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 1Co 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

                    1Co 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

                    First of all, let me congratulate you, this is an area of, if not mutual, at least bilateral submission. What this passage teaches is that the wife’s body does not belong to herself, it belongs to her husband. And, in the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to himself, but belongs to his wife.

                    The point of the passage, as we see in verse 5, is the avoiding of ‘incontency’ (sexual sin). The wife is told to submit her body to her husband, so that he will not sin sexually. The husband is also told (and this seems to be less of a problem for most marriages) to submit his body to his wife, so that she is not tempted, sexually, with other men.

                    They are told to come together frequently, to avoid sex only when both parties are in full and willing agreement, so that sexual sin can be avoided. Great passage.

                    But it must be noted it is far from the ‘mutual submission’ thing that you seem to be promoting. While the husband may have the obligation (and the OT says the same thing) to give his wife sex whenever she wants it (and that frequently) he is not told to call her ‘Lord’, or to obey her ‘in everything’ as the woman is told to do (I Peter 3).

                    Read your Bible outside of your modern framework and you will see what the church has always taught: that a husband is to reflect Christ in his relationship with his wife, via a loving God-given (and to God responsible) headship.

                    (I said nothing about the situation with your daughter because I know nothing of the situation with your daughter. I rarely comment on personal matters, and in this case I would need to interview several people (including the pastor, your daughter, and your husband) before I would say anything, even privately.

                    I myself have seen dozens of families torn apart and destroyed because the husband failed to assume his Biblical responsibilities. Indeed one of the first complaints God ever had about man was that he listened to his wife instead of obeying God.

                  • Vaughn Ohlman

                    Now as to Eph 5:21 and the supposed ‘mutual submission’ you propose it means… far otherwise. Eph 5, along with several parallel passages, does not leave this ‘mutual submission’ undefined, but goes on to define it. It lists several instances (and others are listed elsewhere) of what this submission is supposed to look like, and it is very, very like what Christ Himself taught.
                    Christ and Paul and Peter et al taught that we are each to submit: to those who God has placed over us. Christ submitted to God the father, and expected His disciples to submit to (obey) him. Indeed that is how He said they would show their love.
                    Wives are told to submit to husbands, slaves to master, children to parents, citizens to rulers, parishoners to elders, and everyone to God the Father. Our submission is mutual not in the modern sense that it doesn’t exist (which is the natural result of modern ‘mutual’ submission. If my wife is to obey me, and I am to obey her, what is the result? That no one ‘obey’s’ anyone.) but the utter submission of obedience to authority that Christ examples, going to the cross not by his will, but by the will of His Father.

                    • Tricia Johnson

                      It’s so interesting how you quoted one or two verses, but when I did, you included the entire passage framed as a sort of “rebuttal” to my words. You should give yourself as much in this way as you’re giving me.

                      I am stunned that you think you would need to talk to my husband about something that happened with my daughter. She’s my daughter; I have as much authority over her as my husband. I am equally stunned that you “rarely comment on personal matters” as this shows a complete lack of compassion. A simple “I’m sorry for what happened” would suffice, but the lack of compassion and human understanding goes with your type. This wound is fresh. You would have had my ear had you even so much as acknowledged that. Having been a victim, I do not give ear to the false teachings of the compassion-less.

                      I will not be baited.

                      I have seen far more families torn apart because of a patriarchal system in their lives. I counsel women daily on this topic. Patriarchy has to go. It is unbiblical, evil and creates a mindset of “god” among men (as you, yourself stated). There is one God. We are not to worship another.

                      Patriarchy nearly always requires the women to “worship” the husband in some way or another. My word, so very many little men in this world!

                    • Vaughn Ohlman

                      I sincerely doubt you are stunned. Nice rhetoric though. I would talk with him, assuming I wished to comment on your claims (which I don’t) since he is your federal head, and hers. I would also wish to talk to your daughter, to get her perspective. And, of course, your pastor, as the one accused.
                      I don’t discuss personal matters on the web because, largely, I don’t think that is where they should be discussed. FTF is much better for that.

                    • Tricia Johnson

                      Nah, the Bible does not tell – as in command – women to obey their husbands. You are mistaken. There is an example where a woman did obey (Sarah) and there is instruction for teaching such to one group of women, but there is no command for women to obey their husbands.

                      Stunned, I was. You are not qualified to judge my emotional reaction, given that you do not eve know me. Lack of compassion on the part of professing Christians is always stunning behavior to me since my Savior was so moved with compassion so much of the time. To be Christ-like is to have compassion.

                      You are mistaken if you think you’d have to talk to my husband about the incident that nearly took my daughter from me. Also, you would not talk to her – nor get near her – without my Mother-Bear instincts rising up and stopping you in your tracks. You would not stand a chance. I have as much Biblical authority over her as my husband.

                      I originally commented on this because I counsel so very many abused women on a regular basis. The abuse has nearly always boiled down to some man who is trying to dominate her, which has led to abuse. Speaking the Truth of Scripture empowers the women I help because they learn what it really says, not what some little man tells them it says.

                      I’ve told women about the patterns you’ve used here and I appreciate your words as they are coming in handy as examples to show women what rhetoric to look for and beware of. No longer stunned, you have become as predictable as the rest.

                      For others reading this, it is not my intent to be mean to Mr. Ohlman any more than it was Jesus’ intent to be mean when he put His naysayers in their place.

                      When a man has to demand submission, he’s never, ever really getting it because submission, by definition, is voluntary. No man is in any position to demand it, ever, because no man can be the Holy Spirit in any woman’s life.

                      My wonderful husband is so very happy.

                    • Vaughn Ohlman

                      Grammar grammar grammar.
                      “Women, be in subjection to your own husbands…”
                      (‘Subjection to’ means ‘obey’.)
                      “…For after this manner… the holy women also… adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands…
                      …*even as Sarah obeyed Abraham.”

                      Sarah is indeed an example, an example of the kind of obedience that Peter, here, is calling on all Christian women to have toward their own husbands.

                      And, of course, Titus 2 merely states, directly, that women are to obey their own husbands.

                      As to your issue with your daughter, I was not suggesting that I interview any of those people. I was saying, and am saying, that I would not (note the subjunctive tense) comment on the issue unless I had. So Mother Bear can calm down.

                      As to your bit about ‘demanding submission’ I wonder how you deal with Jesus’ texts on the subject, where he tells His disciples to obey Him? Yes, being in submission is a voluntary thing. And God tells us to do that voluntary thing.

                    • Tricia Johnson

                      Thank you for your attention to grammar. You will do well to heed that advice as though you believe it.

                      In the Greek, it does not always mean the same thing in the same context. But, I digress.

                      Titus 2 does not state that.

                      Thank you for the additional fodder for my folder! Being able to show the women I help these things in writing is incredibly helpful.

                      To even suggest that you would talk to my daughter is enough for this Mother Bear to rear up and be ready to do you in. You know nothing about her. You have no idea what she has been through. Actually, she would set you straight if she had the opportunity, perhaps better than I. In all honesty, someone like you would actually benefit from knowing someone like her. I wonder if you do know someone like her. I don’t think you do.

                    • Vaughn Ohlman

                      I will. To say that any word, in any language, does not mean ‘the same thing in the same context’ is to speak pure dribble. Probably what you meant to say was that the word can mean different things in *different* contexts.

                      But in any case, the context, and meaning, of these words is quite clear. Women obey your husbands.

                      And, for about the thousandth time, I have no desire to speak to your daughter, your husband, or your pastor (altho that last interests me slightly, I will confess). However, not having spoken to them, I also have no desire to give you any sympathy over an issue I know nothing about.

                    • Tricia Johnson

                      So, let me get this straight. If a sister has been hurt, you will not offer her compassion or sympathy until you have talked to all parties involved in her pain, so that you can determine if her pain is warranted and worthy of your compassion.

                      Oh, no, no. That man is no longer my pastor. I left in a flash. I don’t even think you would get along with him or be able to submit yourself to his interpretations of Scripture.

                      C’mon now, give me something original, something unexpected. The predictable is so boring. We’ve talked a thousand times?

                      I appreciate the information you’ve added to my folder and I wish you a happy life. I hope that when you are in pain, you find compassion since pain is slow to heal without compassion. Compassion for the hurting is one of the things that marks Christianity. Isn’t that good to know?

                    • Vaughn Ohlman

                      >>So, let me get this straight. If a sister has been hurt,

                      No, here it is straight: when some lady I don’t know from Eve gives me a few details about one of a half dozen sides of a story on the internet in a public forum…

                      I don’t comment. I only comment on the story when I am in private, generally; and definitely only when I know more sides of a story. It is not a question of ‘compassion’ but of truthfullness.

                      When I am in pain I won’t be coming to a public forum on the internet for ‘compassion’; and I wouldn’t dream of asking for someone to listen to only my side of the story.

              • I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter. If it helps any, I, too, have witnessed the same results from a lot of friends in the patriarchy movement. It’s sad, but the hope I have is that its walls are falling down.

                • Tricia Johnson

                  Thank you. She’s doing better now. My husband has been a pastor for 30 years and never one time did he insert himself into a family as an “authority” who was going to “set things straight.” We were between churches, and helping a church transition to multi-ethnic ministry at the time. The senior pastor did a number on our autistic daughter that got my Mother-Bear dander up and that was the end of that. The poor guy didn’t know what to do because he does not talk to women, but he had to listen to me and since I’m a woman, he could hardly tolerate the conversation, let alone the fact that he had to submit to me about my own daughter.

                  I agree with you that the walls are coming down. Learning of this movement has been a shock since my husband was my pastor for so long and does not practice the things the movement promotes.

                  • grifter1910

                    I’m terribly sorry for what happened to your daughter and I send my prayers and blessings as you and your family continue in your recovery and spiritual journey. You’re obviously a woman who has come, through adversity and courage, to true and still-evolving wisdom. I’m a young man without a family, which is why I hesitate to offer any advice to you for fear of appearing presumptuous. But having read this little colloquy between you and Mr. Ohlman, I would like to impart one piece of advice that has been hard-won for me:

                    DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

                    • Tricia Johnson

                      Thanks, grifter1910, that’s good advice. Why do you think I stopped commenting? Your compassion is obvious. Your presumption is non-existant.

          • Vaughn Ohlman

            You are perfectly correct that children are to obey both parents. Given that the wife is also to obey her husband, we thus see ‘father-rule’. Indeed that very word is used in Scripture.

            You will perhaps remember God’s praise of Abraham:

            Gen 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

            And God’s praise of the children of Rechab:

            Jer 35:18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:

            Jer 35:19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.

  • galacticexplorer

    I’m honestly surprised and impressed to see some of the things you mentioned here (specifically calling into question the concept of God being male). It is good to see that some homeschooling adults that used to be patriarchal are moving away from these harmful systems. I can name another couple of reasons why patriarchy has to go, although I’m sure many here would disagree with me.

    Patriarchy harms sexual minorities and gender non-conforming people. It isn’t only gender roles that Patriarchy is obsessed with, it is gender essentialism. It is the idea that people are immutably male or female and these categories bring with them certain immutable traits of masculinity or femininity. Anyone who does not display these traits must be changed, shunned, or shamed. Many complimentarians will insist that they are willing to branch outside of traditional gender roles. A man can be a stay-at-home dad and a woman can be a physicist (like me). But they must still be masculine or feminine. Aggressiveness in a woman is still despised. Softness in a man is still derided. Homosexuality is still hated. And transgender people (also like me) are erased and scorned. Until Christians are ready to ease up on their rigid control of the idea of “gender” Patriarchy will never really go.

  • prometheamoth

    Sounds exactly like the Mormons early in this century. Cults, both.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    I find this discussion a bit amusing. A reading of Church history on the subject of patriarchy (that is, the various underlying principles of husband/father-headship) will reveal that Doug Phillips was far from being even close to what the church has historically taught. The church historical taught a view of father-headship that was far, far stronger and more dramatic than anything Doug Phillips managed.
    On the idea of God being male, the discussion has gotten a bit equivocal. What the church has always taught is that God *represents Himself as male in relationship to us.” That is He uses terms such as ‘father’ (not mother), ‘son’ (not daughter), represents Himself as the husband (not wife) of Israel and then the church, and uses the pronoun and related words such as ‘He’, ‘Him’, etc.
    Far from this teaching that God is limited in Gender, it shows His relationship to us. He expects obedience from His children (believers) as a father does, He expects obedience from his wife (Israel, the church) as a husband does, etc. God is not shy of presenting Himself in a more female role where that best fits the analogy (gather us as his chicks, for example. Hint: roosters don’t do that.)
    Those who freak out at what Doug Phillips mildly (and often inaccurately) managed to teach on father-rulership (patri-archy) had best not read the old commentators. I fear for their heart if they were to read John Gill or John Calvin on Jeremiah 35, for example.

    • grifter1910

      Behold the troll.

  • texassa

    My mother was (is) a stay-at-home mom, while my dad worked outside of the home. In many ways, I pitied my schoolmates and friends whose parents both had jobs. My mom was always available when we were sick, always there with snacks when we arrived home from school, and made breakfast, lunch and dinner every night. Honestly, we were lucky. The problem I have with forced – even expected – gender roles is that it removes a person’s choice. What about the young woman who dreams of being a doctor, a journalist, even a cashier at the mall? What about the married woman who cannot conceive and is unable to find usefulness and success outside of motherhood? And most importantly, what about the women who do not wind up married to good, caring men? Imagine being unskilled, uneducated and professionally inexperienced while married to an abusive, uncaring or hurtful man. In that situation, a woman is trapped because she cannot imagine being able to stand on her own and support herself and the many young children the couple likely has. The same would go for a woman who becomes widowed. Indoctrinating young women from birth that their only acceptable role is as a mother and wife is abusive. It sets women up to be owned, controlled, and severely limited in their choices and opportunities.

    • ArmyChick

      This… a MILLION times!

    • Renea

      The apostle Paul said it was actually better to be single. A woman’s first call is not to be a wife and mother. Her first call is to be in a saving relationship with Jesus. Period

  • abba12

    Thanks for saying something about this as a prominent name in the christian homeschooling world 🙂 As a graduated homeschooler now raising and soon HSing my own children it’s nice to see I am not the only one who didn’t buy into doug phillips or certain other ‘leaders’. Sometimes it feels like a LOT of my peers did, and it’s hard to keep quiet and respect their decisions sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if there are other large families out there who also rejected these teachings, because it sure feels lonely being in a large family without the VF or another ‘community’ to identify with sometimes.

    I do believe in something that I call ‘patriarchy’ but it looks NOTHING like the abusive absurdity I have seen in these families. Believe me, I am no quiet mouse, my husband KNOWS my opinion before a decision is made, and I can count on one hand the number of times in my marriage that patriarchy has had any effect on our family decisions. People often remember the verse that a woman should submit to her husband, but few people ever finish the quote with the second half, that a man must love his wife (and by love I do not mean the emotion, I mean love as a verb, relating to the list of ‘loving behaviour’ we find in 1 Cor). When a man loves his wife as the bible commands, with all the attributes of 1 Cor love, he will not use her submission as a power to lord over her, or excuse to fill his needs and mistreat her. He cannot without breaking the command placed on him in that very same verse. I wish more patriarchal families could see this.

    I also am open to a large family, I love children, but I refuse to identify with quiverful because of the extremes they go to (I use birth control between pregnancies because I cannot breastfeed and, particularly after my first, a back to back pregnancy could have killed me (I was on a liquid diet before lunchtime for 3 months AFTER my first birth due to lingering, severe nausea after 9 months of hyperemesis). I completely blame my one miscarriage on getting pregnant before I could physically handle it, due to the complicated nature of my pregnancies even outside of my HG).

    I believe in gender roles, but I believe in them truly being equal. My husband doesn’t work because I am incapable of it, he works because I am, by nature, design and practicality, the more fitting parent to be at home with the children. In the same token, he does not micromanage my home, in fact he would rather have less involvement in my ‘role’ than he currently has to take because of my health. He trusts that I am a capable, intelligent person and trusts me completely in all day-to-day decisions regarding our house, children and schooling. (not to say he has no input, and he always looks at things like our curriculum etc, or we discuss parenting decisions and child raising issues frequently, but he would have to feel very strongly about something to outright disagree with it because he trusts I have done my research and observed our children before forming my opinion. It’s more like a check-in to stay on the same page than anything else most of the time) I have my ‘job’ and he has his, and they are fitting for us, but in no way am I ‘beneath’ him. Quite the opposite, I feel blessed and spoilt sometimes because I can be here playing with children or taking a nap or spending time on hobbies while he is stuck at work. My job requires me to be ‘on call’ and alert 24 hours a day, but it does not require me to actually, actively, work with only one break for 10 hours every day. He doesn’t have time to be reading online like I am doing right now. I have far more time to myself to persue hobbies and interests than him, which is the tradeoff for the fact I never ‘leave’ my job at the end of the day. He has more active hours, but I almost never have true ‘time off’. Our roles are equal, different, and suited to our natures, skills and abilities. But they are EQUAL, and we trust each other to fill their roles without micromanagement and nagging/checking up on.

    I think the biggest problem with these leaders like doug phillips is not the core, fundamental ideas they are using, which in their true and biblical form are often good, or at least based in something true. It is the way these leaders proceed to completely twist and morph the teaching into something it never was, something which gives them power and bears no resemblance to the bible. I see plenty of reference to a father protecting his daughter and a daughter respecting her father (and mother), but I don’t see anywhere in the bible where it says single daughters must not work, may not do religious work, must care for siblings, must sit in wait for a husband etc etc. Quite the opposite, I see capable single young women using their child-free years wisely to do the lords work or to help their families. The deepest core of the belief is based in the bible but it has been twisted to a point where it is nearly unrecognizable from what the bible actually says on the topic.

    I hope the recent events will help free some families from these dangerous, unbiblical teachings and encourage them to search out the biblical truth themselves.

  • Trish Martin

    The homeschool movement, as you call it, doesn’t have to “do” anything with Doug Philips’ idea of patriarchy. As homeschoolers, we are just as entitled to our understanding of what God wants for our families as you and Doug Phillips are, and we are alsos entitled to our own beliefs without interference from you (or Doug Phillips) about who God is. Your demands that certain beliefs and practices “have to go” are very demanding, aren’t they? Your tone is also very demeaning, and your arguments are so slanted that I don’t see much of a difference between you and Doug Phillips. God is who God is, and he (yes, he) will not be defined or boxed in by you. Hubris much? As a homeschooling mother and wife like many others who have had nothing to do with Doug Phillips or his version of God, I think that you are being very presumptuous. As a Christian, I do believe that God is identified as male, and in many cases, particularly church leadership, Jesus called him Father. Who are you to decide who God is? I prefer male leadership. On the other hand, I also believe women have much to contribute in the public sphere, and I have held significant leadership positions of my own. I only have two children, but I very much support those who decide to be fruitful and multiply because they feel that they are obeying God in this. If Christians don’t, who will? What are the consequences of that? As for gender roles, yes, God created man and woman for certain roles, and if you don’t like that, or you don’t understand that, then you are entitled to your opinion. However, you are not entitled to force your opinions on me or my homeschooling Christian sisters, nor are you entitled to destroy the Bible and Christian foundations of marriage and family with your little blog here. Finally, as far as control goes, I do think that families are healthier when children (including adult children who still live in their fathers’ households (if they are fortunate enough to have a father who provides for them) should respect and abide by their parents’ instructions. Otherwise, they ought to go establish their own households. Does that mean we all have to have a “narrow view of family dynamics”? No. There are many variables in families, and quite frankly, if more mothers could and would stay home with their children to do one of the most important jobs in the world– unpaid but not uncompensated, of course– we would all be so much better off, as a community, as a nation, and as a world. Don’t sell motherhood short because of your own pride and prejudices. Should every woman stay home? Maybe not, but that is their choice to make, not yours. You say, “Doug Phillips’ fall is an opportunity to focus on that which home educators should focus.” No, thank you. I’m too busy leading my own life. Doug Phillips never has been and never will be relevant to me, so as a home educator, I don’t need you to tell me on what I should focus. My focus is my own home, my own family, my own children, and God.

    • Renea

      He is not forcing his opinions on you. You don’t have to read his articles. He is giving his opinions just like you are. That is hypocritical

  • mamazee

    LOve this and totally agree – i have eight children (18 down to 2) – and i bought the Botkin book (So Much More) from Vision Forum, and was honestly kind of grossed out. I can remember being a teenager 🙂 – even though i am 41, and i knew i would have desperately gnawed off my leg to escape a home like they describe where your only option is basically to act as a sister wife to your mom and only strive to support your dad in everything he does. God puts in us the desire to separate from parents at just the right time. This is natural and good. We are meant to leave our parents and cleave to our husbands/wives. The Biblical Patriarchy was/is creepy – the dad/daughter purity balls, the “shave your dad” thing? even the purity ring – i love the idea of a young girl doing that on her own, but to have your dad give you the ring seems like he is meddling into something he has no part of…

  • This movement sets up the framework for emotional and verbal abuse perfectly.