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Archive for the ‘Selling the Solution’ Category

In a recent email exchange with a certain patriocentric blogger with a penchant for Victorian decorating, we White Washed Feminists were accused of being obsessed with Stacy McDonald, Jennie Chancey, Doug Phillips, and Lydia Sherman.  I wanted to see if this was true, so I did a little counting.  Out of 115 blog posts, approximately 18 of them have directly discussed teachings of the aforementioned public figures/teachers and specifically name their names when discussed.   That is approximately 15.6%.  Does this qualify as being obsessed?

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This is just a flyby post, but I was reading on Doug’s Blog this evening and came across this quote that he provided by Cotton Mather:

“I am sure they [students at Harvard] do not show such a veneration for Aristotle as is express’d at Queen’s College in Oxford; where they read Aristotle on their knees, and those who take degrees are sworn to defend his philosophy.” Cotton Mather, Great Works of Christ in America, Vol II pg. 21,The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979. Reprint of 1852 edition.

Seriously, I get the quote, but here’s what I don’t get.  Doug seems to be against college for anyone but himself.  I mean, he’s a lawyer, isn’t he?  He’s been through at least six years of school if he’s a member of the bar.  Is college just okay for him and bad news for everyone else?  Or is it because he wants people to go to Vision Forum’s “college?”

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In light of recent events, blog posts, and discussions, I’ve been thinking about the Pearl’s with their To Train Up a Child book and No Greater Joy series. I have come to see how Vision Forum Ministries sells an ideal with it’s products. For them it’s an upper middle class nice family with godly children, and obedient wife, and a strong leader of a husband. The Pearl’s don’t sell an image like that, but I’ve come to believe that they do in fact, sell an image.

When I think of Michael Pearl with his long white beard, or their daughter leaving her wedding in a meadow on horseback, or the stories they tell of strong Christian women making a godly home with very little, I see that they’re selling the country ideal. Their ideal is a strong leader husband with a wife who is submissive, yes, but can probably butcher her own meat if need be, or shoot a gun. The children know which plants to touch and which berries to eat, and it’s okay to not teach them to read until they’re ten if they’re busy learning about their environment.

Vision Forum Ministries sells people on a family that is run under the guidance of the husband. No Greater Joy sells people on a family that is run with the the “rod”. Doug Phillips shows us an upscale pilgrim family ruled through simple faith and a family firmly under the dominion of the father. Michael Pearl gives us a simple pioneer family, who understand the dangers of the godless government, and rules the family through good honest fear and frequent trips to the woodshed.

Both want to convince us that there is something out there to be afraid of. For Vision Forum, it’s womens lib and feminism, and for the Pearls it’s the danger of parents who don’t discipline, and any discipline other than what they prescribe is plain permissiveness.

Both want us to be scared enough of what our families might become that we will look to them for the solution. Buy their books, buy their materials, and at all costs, buy their lifestyle. And both couch their teachings in biblical language and cherry picked scripture to bolster their arguments.

I remember being very confused when I was a Pearl follower. After reading their books I knew I had to be vigilant or my children would never learn perfect obedience and could be pulled away by the sin of the world. Then I read Michael Pearl say that we weren’t to parent in fear. Well, color me confused. As I read on, his idea was that we didn’t have to parent in fear because by doing what he said, we would be parenting God’s way and that we couldn’t go wrong. But it was hard to erase the fear that he had spent so much time building up with his dire predictions for my children if I did not switch them, and often.

Ultimately, I have decided that I don’t need to follow anyone who wants to lead through fear. Whether it’s fear of not being submissive enough, or fear of not parenting my children the right way, or fear that if I die before going to confession, I might not go straight to heaven.

I don’t have to be afraid anymore. I will never have perfect obedience from my children. I will never submit myself perfectly to the needs of my family, the authority of my husband, or my God. I will never have a day where I don’t sin in some way, fall short in some way, or fail in some way. But God will make up for my shortcomings. He knows I’m not perfect and He loves me anyway. I don’t have to buy an image, or a solution for the worlds ills. Because He is the answer, the way, the truth, and the life. He gave me this family and we just have to be who we are, imperfect and ever striving to be all He created us to be. How wonderful is that?

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(This is the beginning of a several part discourse regarding Legalism, Phariseeism, and Patriocentricity)

What is Legalism?  Patriocentrists often complain that they are labeled as legalists, but that there is no basis for the charge.  They are simply following the Bible, after all… I thought it would be helpful to come up with a definition of legalism.  As I studied, I found an unlikely source for the definition I like to use.  It comes from Kevin Swanson, of all places!

Kevin Swanson’s definitions of legalism:

1.       The Serial Killer’s definition (aka, the Antinomian) : Legalism occurs anytime you bring up God’s law in any context whatsoever

2.       Justification by works

3.       When we replace God’s laws/principles, with our own conception of what God’s principles ought to say (our own traditions)

When a Serial Killer Calls You a Legalist

I’ve yet to encounter a patriocentrist who would fall into the first definition.  Generally, patriocentrists tend to be theonomists or reconstructionists where there is a good deal of emphasis on the Law, and not just the Ten Commandments, but all of it.  They are about as far from Antinomian as you could possibly get.

As to the second definition, well, I’m not quite sure it’s fair to say that they hold to “justification by works.”  Certainly, in their statements of faith, they confess to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.  However, when you make statements like this:

“In conscious opposition to feminism, egalitarianism, and the humanistic philosophies of the present time, the church should proclaim the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions.”

And this:

“Biblical patriarchy is just one theme in the Bible’s grand sweep of revelation, but it is a scriptural doctrine, and faithfulness to Christ requires that it be believed, taught, and lived.”

I get a little concerned.  But let’s give patriocentrists the benefit of the doubt and move on to the third definition.  This is the one that I believe fits and where I think the patriocentrists fall.  They have replaced God’s laws/principles, with their own conception of what God’s principles ought to say.

Let’s take homeschooling for example.  God’s Law requires that we teach the Faith to our children at all times (Deuteronomy 6).  Patriocentrists take this verse and run with it, creating a command that is eisegeted into the passage.  Somehow, Deuteronomy 6 now means that we have to homeschool and, if we don’t, we’ve sent our children off to centers of Baal worship.

Or what about the famous Deuteronomy 22:5 –

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

Somehow, this has been twisted to mean that women can’t wear pants.   The “dresses-only” movement has produced such stellar apologetical essays as

“The Sin of Bathsheba”

“Christian Dress Code”

“Let’s Talk Modesty”

What about “stay-at-home” daughterhood?  I’ve seen exactly ONE Scriptural reference used to support this concept:

“If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand.

“But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her.

Numbers 30: 3-5

Two girls took this concept and ran with it, and now Vision Forum has a whole new product line to sell to us.  College is EVIL!  Especially college for women:

“The priests and priestesses of the 21st century would have us believe that the most sacred of our cultural holy cows come from the temples of feminism.

One such sacred cow is the notion that truly enlightened, responsible Christian parents should mortgage their homes to send their daughters to the carnival culture of college, to live for four years in co-ed dormitories, and under the tutelage of Babylonian high priests called professors, so that these blood-bought daughters can aspire to become the next generation of independent working women of the world. Another sacred cow is the notion that people either believe in sending daughters to college or they are small-minded, anti-education, woman-dominating bigots.

Incredibly, these mad-cow disease-infected sacred bovines of modern feminism have left the dung fields of their secular temple culture and have migrated in herds to the living rooms of our Christian community. There they dwell-mooing, snorting, and wreaking havoc on the peace of the Body of Christ. “

Doug’s Blog, September 1, 2007

There is no explicit command for daughters, or even sons for that matter, to stay at home until they are married.  There is not even an implicit command!  We may see that “pattern” throughout Scripture, but I think it’s important to ask ourselves if this is the way God designed things or whether or not it had more to do with the culture of the time and the fact that it simply wasn’t safe for daughters to go out on their own.  And we certainly see PLENTY of women doing “non-normative” things like ruling a nation, working outside the home, and financially supporting Jesus’ ministry (not to mention following him around everywhere he went!).

How about women working outside the home?  See the following articles for more on this:

Jennie Chancey Responds to Titus 2 Cynics

Is It Sin for a Woman to Work Outside the Home?

Do What God Says and Let Him Take Care of the Rest

So, where do we draw the line between liberty and legalism?  I think the answer is fairly simple.  We WWF believe that a number of the patriocentrists’ pet issues are matters of Christian liberty.  God has explicitly called us to train our children and teach them the Faith.  The way we do that is left up to us.  God has explicitly commanded modesty of both women AND men.  What passes as modest will vary from culture to culture.  We’d freak out if we saw a bare-breasted woman walking down the street in America, but in innumerable tribal cultures, this is the standard and nobody bats an eyelash.  As for daughters staying at home until marriage- again, that is a matter of liberty to be determined by the father AND mother and, I think the adult daughter.  What about women working outside the home?  Frankly, I see the pattern set forward in Scripture as women staying at home, HOWEVER, I refuse to dismiss those who do not as non-normative.  They are there and, frankly, I believe it is sinful to dismiss them.  We need to seek out the whole counsel of God and not just that which fits into our agenda.

We cross the line into legalism when we add to God’s commands.  And I contend that, by saying Christian families must homeschool, women must wear skirts or dresses only, daughters must stay home until marriage, women can’t be homemakers and work outside the home, we do cross that line!  We’ve read into the Bible what seems culturally relevant to us.

Look at the pet issues of the patriocentrists- homeschooling, dresses-only, daughters at home, women at home… they are all reactionary and are all based on fear of the culture.  We can’t send our children off to Baal worship centers!  Pants aren’t feminine and someone might mistake you for a man from the backside (unlikely, but okay…).  Daughters need protecting, even the very adult ones (and sons do not, apparently) and they can’t go to college or they’ll turn into feminists!  Women must be keepers at home because if they start to earn their own money, they’ll want ownership of it and they’ll usurp the headship of their husbands!  Look at this!  It is totally reactionary!  It’s not from the Bible!  They’ve taken “Come out and be ye separate” to a whole new level!  And they are selling it to us hook, line, and sinker.

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Taboo?

Would it be taboo to say that this post from LAF inspired me:

Parables Under My Roof

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Springing off of what was mentioned in a recent post by Cally, I would like to tackle the issue of Vision Forum’s elitism in more detail. So grab a cup of tea, your lace doily, and sit down for a long rant…

Many readers of this blog are doubtless already aware of Doug Phillips and his great entrepreneurial gem, Vision Forum (www.visionforum.com). The very first thing that struck me about their website was its blatant consumerism. Buy all these toys, costumes, books, DVDs, CDs, and curricula so you can live out the real Christian life with your family! Honestly, I first had no idea it was a Christian ministry I simply thought it was a Christian company, my mistake. I heard from someone who knows Mr. Phillips personally that the Phillips family doesn’t give gifts on Christmas. If this is true, then I can only assume it is to protest how consumerism has taken over the true message of Christmas (which is a valid point). It is ironic then that Phillips’ website is largely devoted to things you can and should buy to enhance your Christian life! (Also, I’m sure a large portion of their sales occur in December.)

The second thing that struck me about Vision Forum was their American-ness. Although they will not say it outright, their method of Christian living is not only created by Americans but also crafted specifically for Americans. Somehow I don’t see Brits getting all excited about buying American revolutionary war costumes for their boys. And Native Americans (to which group I technically belong) would not be so pleased to see VF’s array of cowboy and pioneer items for sale under “American Heroes of the West.” Granted, there is an overpriced teepee, but not even one Indian Chief costume! Oh, that’s right, by American they mean white American, I forgot.

Besides their very un-PC catalogue, Vision Forum has many more serious problems. They alienate people through their teachings by adding a long To Do list to the cross of Christ. If people are offended by the gospel, it ought to be because of the offense of the cross of Christ, not because they can’t embrace a lifestyle of hyper-patriarchy and clichéd femininity. But beyond the pharisaical elements… let’s just say, for argument’s sake, one wishes to live the VF life. You can only do this fully if you have an enormous income. Think about it this way: a couple has as many “little blessings” as God will give them (and that normally means 6 or more); mom and daughters cannot work outside the home and daughters live at home until they are married; all children are homeschooled; the arts are encouraged (think piano lessons); and there is a strict counter-cultural dress code. What family can afford that? Only upper-middle to upper-class families. VF’s solution is to become an entrepreneurial family and have everyone contribute to generating income from a home-based business. Sounds great, but what if the husband and wife aren’t very business minded (no MBAs in this crowd)?

Vision Forum likes to hold up particular families as pedestal examples of the VF way. One such family is the Botkins. In their new movie The Return of the Daughters and in their blog posts they make it very clear that their adult daughters enjoy living at home. Who wouldn’t when one’s home included such diverting things as a recording studio where you could make your own movies or a lovely, expensive harp (which you could play), an extensive library, and much more? If that was my home I wouldn’t want to leave it either.

A further problem I see is that they idealize a particular culture and a particular time period. To VF the ideal of human civilization is the time period from about England’s Georgian era until women started wearing pants (which we all know corrupted society)—with the pinnacle being the Victorian age. Countless blogs from mothers who follow VF and hyper-patriarchy are replete with Victorian art. I swear, if I see one more picture of serene, lace-clad, white, Victorian women with children in tow I think I’ll puke.

Another thing that is a red flag to me is their collection of buzz words and extra-biblical virtues. Many cults and religious sects, in order to create and maintain an identity, will create their own lingo or even re-define terms so that, when in discussion with them, apples are no longer apples. Some examples of VF’s jargon/re-defined terms are: visionary, dominion, help-meet in training, multi-generational, biblical patriarchy, and biblical family. As far as the virtues VF esteems, most of them are in fact biblical; VF, however, puts those virtues on steroids as well as adding some others such as entrepreneurialism. Ultimately it is a type of Gnostic Legalism… in order to live the Biblical way or the Christian way you must do what they say and live as they do.

So, according to VF, if you are poor, voluntarily sterile, using any type of birth control, a feminist of any shade, a female who eschews dresses for pants, a female college student, a single female missionary, an old-earth creationist, a pacifist, a working mom, a working widow, a stay-at-home dad, a tomboy, a Native American, non-white, or non-American, then you can’t really live out the ideal, visionary Christian life or enjoy the benefits of the true Christian family. My wrong… I thought John 3:16 said “for God so loved the world,” but I guess, according to Doug Phillips, it is “for God so loved the white, middle-to-upper-class, Americans, that whosoever of them believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The reason I claim that Doug Phillips’ version of the gospel is elitist is best explained by transporting all these “values” and the VF type of lifestyle into southern Sudan, or rural China, or any number of places in developing countries or simply in cultures very different to ours. Can you imagine a Sudanese woman, who contracted aids from her dying husband and lives in a one-room hut with five children living out the Vision Forum lifestyle? Christ’s gospel is universal but Vision Forum and hyper-patriarchy are not.

Whatever else it is or isn’t, VF is most certainly a product of a post post-modern society. Post-modernity has stripped away objective truth and many traditional/family values. So it is natural that after post-modernity has ravaged America, movements which strive to give people a purpose and/or a method of purposeful living have become popular. Just look at the rise in Neo-Paganism and New-Age groups (think Yoga), or the popularity of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. For many people who come from families or educations that left them adrift, VF gives them an anchor. The anchor, however, is not Christ and His gospel. The anchor is a 21st century, Americanized version of the Old Testament Law. In the end, either the anchor won’t hold the ship, or the ship will become submerged under her heavy yoke. Only the test of time will tell—something Vision Forum hasn’t had yet.

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Cally asked me recently where all the father/son or mother/son information was on the Patriocentric blogs and sites. Upon consideration I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything in that regard. When I looked up the infamous “Whitewashed Feminist” blog post, I noticed down the side of the blog that there were links for protecting daughters and keeping daughters at home. Yet nothing about boys.
Presumably it would seem that if girls are to be daughters at home and grow to be wives of headship males who will lead them, boys should be learning how to lead. So, where are the books for boys on the subject? Where are the retreats, blogs, and other media geared to prepare boys for that role? Why is there information on protecting daughters and not on protecting sons?

The adults in the Patriarchy movement may not be feminists, but they do appear to be blatantly sexist. The only good reason that I’ve come up with for the discrepancy between the amount of information geared toward girls as opposed to boys is the idea that girls need the help and boys don’t. It seems they believe boys are smart enough to become good leaders without reading 20 books and daily blog posts. Boys don’t need that kind of help. It will come naturally to them, I guess.

Girls must be protected from the wickedness of the world. Either because they’re easily deceived or more easily victimized. Boys apparently don’t need protection like girls do. They may also be children, but can seemingly take care of themselves while girls must have that extra guidance and protection.

It leaves me with mixed feelings. Either girls aren’t that smart and need lots of guidance and protection, or they’re so smart that they need daily indoctrination to keep them from questioning too much. Either option doesn’t leave me feeling particularly edified.

My son’s are children, and in need of as much protection as my daughters. It is a dangerous stereotype to think that predators are only interested in our pretty little girls. They’re not. And as much as I love my sons, it’s a challenge just to get them to pick their socks up off the floor (maybe that’s why we girls need such intense training as housekeepers?) so I can’t imagine that they are going to learn to be good strong leaders without at least as much encouragement and instruction as my daughters.

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