Doug Wilson Uses Vision Forum Scandal to Defend Patriarchy

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HA note: This following is reprinted with permission from Ahab’s blog, Republic of Gilead. It was originally published on November 13, 2013.

Doug Phillips and Vision Forum Ministries were prominent in the Christian Patriarchy Movement, so their recent scandals have brought fresh attention to the movement. On October 30th, Doug Phillips resigned from his position as president of Vision Forum Ministries, and shortly thereafter, Vision Forum Ministries shut downSome commentators have used the scandal as an opportunity reflect on how Christian Patriarchy ideology unfairly silences women, fails to hold men accountable, and creates a world ripe for hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, one commentator seemed more interested in defending Christian Patriarchy ideology than reflecting on what went wrong at Vision Forum Ministries.

In a November 13th commentary at Blog & Mablog, Doug Wilson discussed the closure of Vision Forum Ministries following Doug Phillips’ October 30th resignation. He called the closure “fitting and appropriate”, admitting that “the effects are devastating” when a man like Phillips fail to behave responsibly.

Unfortunately, he devoted much of his column to defending the supposed virtues of patriarchy, in spite of Phillips’ misconduct. Wilson dismissed feminists who criticized patriarchy, accusing them of “screeching”. He lamented that the word “patriarchy” has been tarnished in the eyes of “saps” who have absorbed “feminist indoctrination”.

“Feminists diligently labor to represent any form of father rule as inherently bad, or at least as bad as a relativist can make it out to be — which is pretty bad since the case need not be based on careful reasoning, but rather just screeching. Screeching goes a long way these days.

So, after a generation of saps has gone through the feminist indoctrination that we call the university system, all you have to do is use the word patriarchy in some unapologetic way, and everybody stares at you like you were a six inch cockroach or something.”

Wilson defended patriarchy at length, citing Bible passages that gave husbands authority over wives and fathers authority over children. He called patriarchy “inescapable”, arguing that our only choices are for men to act as responsible patriarchs and receive “blessing”, or to fail at their calling and bring down “humiliation and chastisement” upon themselves.

Throughout the commentary, Wilson refused to admit that male dominance in and of itself was problematic.

He admitted that some “machismo patriarchalists” may have “gravitated to Vision Forum circles, and found what they thought was adequate cover there.” However, he quickly added that “many marriages have been saved as a result of the things learned from Vision Forum”, clinging to his belief that it is abuse of patriarchy, not patriarchy itself, that is the problem.

When a powerful man “with lots of testosterone” takes part in adultery, Wilson sees a sleazy, manipulative Delilah at work.

“A man with lots of testosterone is in a position to start a dynamic ministry that speaks to thousands, that fills conference halls, and that rivets people to their seats. Taking a hypothetical, that very same man is also in a much better position to succumb to the blandishments of a stripper with a stage name of Foxy Bubbles, and all in the settled conviction that his sin will not find him out. How could his sin find him out? He rivets people to their seats.

Samson eventually had his eyes put out, but even before he lost his eyes he was not able to see what Delilah was doing with and to him. The thing that God was using against the Philistines, his strength, was also the thing that Delilah was using in a series of sexual jiu jitsu moves against Samson. It is an old trick, and it still works very, very well.”

Phillips was not a shaved, blinded Samson, but a man who made a conscious choice to engage in infidelity.

What message does this send to the world about the woman Doug Phillips was involved with?

We don’t know who she was or what the nature of her contact with Phillips was. To boot, Phillips was a powerful man in his subculture, and we don’t know what, if any role that power played in his inappropriate relationship. (HA note: We know more as of yesterday.) If his misconduct involved force, threats, or relations with a minor, rhetoric about Delilah and “sexual jiu jitsu” would be victim-blaming.

Let’s get all the facts before assuming that the woman in question was some wily Delilah.

When an institutional crisis strikes, it’s sadly common to see people circle the wagons rather than admit that systemic problems may exist. Any ideology, including Christian Patriarchy ideology, that arbitrarily gives one group vast power over another group will produce injustice and lack of accountability. Patriarchy is intrinsically unjust, and it becomes doubly toxic when propped up by religion. The Phillips scandal demands that we confront patriarchy.

I’m disappointed that Doug Wilson fails to understand this.

The Freedom From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Education: Apollos

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The Freedom From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Education: Apollos

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Apollos” is a pseudonym.

I loved being homeschooled.

Homeschooling gave me freedom. The freedom to explore my interests. The freedom to follow my heart’s passions. The freedom to study the things that I wanted to study.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience that I would never trade for anything.

I was homeschooled all the way through. Starting in kindergarten through highschool graduation. Religion was a factor and I don’t mind that. My parents are Christians, we were in a Christian homeschool co-op, and I am still a Christian. I am not ashamed to say I love Christianity and I love homeschooling.

But what I love about my homeschooling experience was the lack of structure.

It’s not that there was zero structure. I had to learn the basics. Ya know, math, science, history, language arts. But there was no per se “curriculum.” We’d start with some general outline: read this book, or that book. My parents would assign me a book on U.S. history, for example. And when I read something interesting about William Jennings Bryan, I was allowed to focus on Bryan and progressive Christian politics. I wasn’t forced to only study the side of history (or the ideas on that side) that a particular group of people liked.

This freedom really fostered my creativity and my innate desire to explore new ways of thinking.

In a very true, deep way I was not taught what to think, but how to learn.

And again, my family was Christian.

But they didn’t let their ideas about religion get in the way of my education. In fact, their willingness to let me look at ideas they personally disagreed with ultimately led me to see that Christianity doesn’t have to be believed from a fearful, reactionary stance.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed a big push in homeschooling towards “Classical Christian Education.” (I’m just going to call that “CCE” for short.) Which is funny, in itself, because that push comes from Mr. Slavery Apologist himself, Doug Wilson; which, insofar as slavery is truly a classical institution, demonstrates that “classical” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Wilson’s books, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and The Case for Classical Christian Education, have been credited by many people in the CCE movement as being inspirational. Lots of Christian homeschoolers I know are now moving in this direction; Classical Conversations is one such manifestation.

I find this odd. Key to the CCE movement is the radical integration of one particular worldview into all subjects and a reliance on Middle Ages pedagogy. Is everyone forgetting that these are the very things that Protestants did when they created the public school systems in the first place — the systems that us homeschoolers have tried so hard to break free from?

I don’t see much difference between the public school mentality and what CCE homeschoolers are now doing.

They’re both using the same top-down techniques and one-size-fits-all pedagogies which — when I was being homeschooled — were explicitly rejected by the homeschooling movement.

But I digress.

The main thing I wanted to say was how thankful I am that homeschooling, for me, freed me from a one-size-fits-all approach to education. It liberated me from a one-size-fits-all curriculum, too.

That freedom made me an enthusiastic student, as well as strengthened my relationship with Christ.