We love going to a local chili supper fundraiser for a group of volunteer firefighters. Because it is held at their station that is along a busy highway, days before the event, they line the road with bright orange warning barrels so people coming to the supper as well as those passing through their small town will slow down, pay attention, and avoid danger. Remembering a traffic tragedy at one of their suppers a few years back reminds them how important this is and everyone is grateful for their diligence.
This week I have been considering just a few of those things I believe should serve as warning markers, the cumbersome orange warning barrels along the patriarchy highway, that will keep families from danger. Here is my list of questions and observations; please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.
How do they use the Bible? Creating unusual if not weird interpretations of Scripture and turning Old Testament narratives into commands, camping out on the more difficult passages of Scripture that centuries of Bible scholars disagree on but magically they understand, these are all part and parcel of this movement. The entire stay-at-home-daughters movement is based on Numbers 30! I still don’t get that one. Ask them to explain why men are priests of the home when 1 Peter 2:9 says we are all priests and kings. Remember the Golden Rules of interpreting Scripture: The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. AND, context, context, context! Warning: Danger.
Do you see hypocrisy? Do the rules apply to everyone or just their minions? Do they set themselves up as arbiters of truth and discernment but rain down fire and brimstone on anyone who even dares to question them? Does their behavior contradict their teachings? Do they have strident rules for everyone but then not apply them in their own homes? Do they present information in such a way as to dissemble truth, only telling you what they want you to hear, knowing if they reported the whole teaching or story, you would believe something entirely different? A number of years ago two different women reported that their pastor and his wife instructed their entire congregation to never tell anyone that they had been divorced and remarried, leaving them feeling they were part of some cover-up they didn’t understand. I call this the “Rahab Clause” as one pastor a few years back taught that God blessed Rahab’s lies so he will bless ours if it for the common good! Warning: Danger!
Do you see a lack of accountability or refusal to hold men accountable to their elders, denominations, and everyone else? Whether we want to believe it or not, there is an epidemic of good old boys clubs within patriarchal circles and creativity when it comes to allowing church leaders to “be restored.” Of course, true restoration and genuine repentance are the hoped for result. But I have seen too many times where people are placed back in to areas of responsibility making a mockery of the whole process. I still remember when a pastor in one of the most conservative churches in my area committed adultery with a woman he was counseling in his congregation. Though he had to step down for a while, during his time off, he was allowed to continue preaching as pulpit supply for other churches in his denomination! And some of the strongest voices for pontificating about the lack of church discipline are those who have ignored their own authorities and gone off to do their own thing. Warning: Danger!
What are the relationship dynamics? Is there a spirit of one anothering that permeates the entire group or is there an attitude of top down authority that goes beyond leadership? Do the fathers get up from talking with the men to help with little ones or change diapers? Does this group produce wimpy wives or even those who are as sweet as a little old magnolia blossom on the outside and mean as a junkyard dog on the inside? How are children nurtured? With an iron fist or with a spirit of gentleness and grace? Do the older young men and women relate to each other normally or is it stiff and weird? How are elderly folks treated in these families? Is practicing the one anothers of Scripture ever mentioned? Do you see it in action? Or is there nothing but role playing? Warning: Danger!
Does there seem to be an obsession with modesty, moral purity, and sex? All the modestly dressed women in the world will not prevent men from lust. Neither will Debi Pearl’s perfect heavenly marriage, wearing only dresses, abstaining from television or movies, not allowing women to engage in conversations with men, warning young people to not become emotionally involved with someone prior to marriage and even asking young maidens to pledge sexual purity to their fathers. (If I read one more salacious description of some couples “first kiss” I will scream. Go back and read Doug Phillips’ description of the “first kisses” has witnessed. So weird!) Do you hear about modesty frequently in your support group or women’s group? Does the pastor preach about sex often? Do you feel uncomfortable when he does? Does he use phrases that depict the act of sex in a violent way? And speaking of violence, what is the group’s position of spiritual, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse of women and children? Don’t know? Warning: Danger!
Do the leaders surround themselves with impressionable young people? I am coming to see this as a major warning sign within the patriocentric groups. First of all, it certainly flies in the face of their teachings about parents being mentors and the importance of parental authority. While I absolutely agree that we want to see our children encouraged and discipled by godly men and women throughout all their lives, I believe God has given parents that important role in the lives of their young adult and adult children. Shipping them off to places for undefined “internships” and questionable “theological” training presents all sorts of new problems and ones we may not even know about until it is too late and damage has been done. What is wrong, for example, with parents who continue to send their young daughters to ATI headquarters when there continue to be reports of bizarre behavior? My guess is that this is far more widespread than we imagine throughout all these groups and not only am I tossing out orange barrels, I am throwing red flags. Warning: Danger!
Do they promise a utopia in this world? Whether it is Vision Forum’s grandiose 200 Year Plan or someone offering a health and wealth Gospel to the faithful, this world is not our home and our only hope for perfection is in heaven! I believe this is one of the cruelest and most deceptive aspects of the patriarchy movement. Yes, we are to be faithful stewards until the Lord returns and are not to think of our attempts to see the culture redeemed via evangelism as polishing brass on a sinking ship. But neither are we to calculate how God will bless us or America through having lots of children or homeschooling or getting the right guy in office. Anyone who paints this vision for you is wrong. Warning: Danger!
Are you being mocked for your concerns and questions regarding the Doug Phillips’ resignation? I don’t know why I am so stunned at the insults and name calling flying left and right at those who question these teachings and the still unanswered questions. If you are getting the heat for this, hang in there. This amazing video is for you. It explains the phenomenon of the whistle blower. It might not make you feel much better but it will certainly help you understand why people don’t appreciate your warnings!
I know my list is not exhaustive but please add your thoughts and testimonies to the comments.