Does Pope Francis’ Use of the Word “Complimentarity” Mean the Same as When Used by Owen Strachan or CBMW?


Pope Francis, Owen Strachan and others, discuss “complimentarity.”  Does it mean the same to all?


Yesterday, Owen Strachan, President of Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), reported on an international colloquium sponsored by Pope Francis who invited leaders from around the world to discuss complimentarity: “Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus are among those representing 14 faith traditions from 23 countries (Source).

From Strachan’s article:

Right now in Rome, the Catholic Church is holding an international colloquium on a very important, and highly controverted, subject: sexual complementarity. The title of the gathering is Humanum Colloquium, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.” The colloquium’s focus is on the institution of marriage . .  .

Strachan continues:

As the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, this event warms my heart. I often find that CBMW is a lonely voice promoting complementarity, the idea that the sexes fit together and become one as the fulfillment of our distinctiveness. God created man and woman, not any organization. Procreation depends upon complementarity. The future of the human race depends upon complementarity. If men and women do not come together, they cannot produce children, and humanity will die (Source).

I had to read it twice. In the use of the word complementarity above by Strachan, he seems to be using it in the same way I read in articles from Catholic news sites and from the words of Pope Francis, promoting traditional marriage of man and woman and producing children. I can roll with that.


The title that was given this gathering of religious leaders used the word “complementarity.”

Here is the title again:

Humanum Colloquium, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium

Let’s read what it says on the website promoting the event:

The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

Witnesses will draw from
 the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
 of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.

The Colloquium is sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and
 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (Source).


medium_100933415 complementarian, owen strachan


STOP, HOLD ON, WAIT one cotton pickin’ minute!!!!



Complementarianism is the pet word of Owen Strachan, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and all of the folks who promote and endorse CBMW. Yes, part of the word has to do with husband and wife and producing children as was mentioned both by Strachan in his recent article and the informational summary of the event. But for CBMW, it goes far beyond that:

Is Pope Francis using the word to show husband’s male headship and authority over wives, in extra-biblical terms indicating what women are permitted to do and not permitted to do?  

Does Pope Francis’ meaning of the word complementarity mean that women will be submitting to all men in the new creation (see my article on this topic and note that it is hosted on the CBMW website)?

 Does Pope Francis’ meaning of the word complemtarity mean he is in alignment with Wayne Grudem’s 83 (extra-biblical) rules for women (Wayne Grudem is a co-founder of CBMW)?  

Or is Pope Francis talking about a different kind of complementarity and Strachan is taking advantage of the opportunity to jump on the coattails of this widely publicized and international event to promote a word and teaching he so loves?  

I don’t for a minute think Pope Francis would endorse Wayne Grudem’s 83 extra-Biblical rules for women or the other ideas espoused above. In a large majority of the world, women must work in order to survive. For some in Strachan’s camp, the idea of women working outside the home endorses Feminism.

Folks, Strachan’s article could be very confusing to those who are trying to make sense of “complementarity.”  I’ve searched high and low and can find no indication that Pope Francis endorses the extra-Biblical rules that define the word complementarity in the same way as Strachan and his friends at CBMW.

It would seem that Catholics would understand their pope and the meaning of his words. Take a look at excerpts from the Catholic News Service article,  Pope says defending traditional marriage is matter of ‘human ecology’:

Pope Francis called for preserving the family as an institution based on marriage between a man and a woman, which he said is not a political cause but a matter of “human ecology.”

“The complementarity of man and woman … is at the root of marriage and the family,” the pope said Nov. 17, opening a three-day interreligious conference on traditional marriage. “Children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

Pope Francis said that “marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.

You see, Pope Francis is in agreement with CBMW’s foundational issues of marriage: that marriage is between a man and a woman as husband and wife  (as opposed to same-sex marriage families). He talks about the cheapening of marriage and I think most of us can agree that we have seen lack of commitment in couples to stay married when the going gets tough.

But that’s not the whole of CBMW’s message. In addition to man being married to a woman, they place an emphasis on hierarchy within the home, male headship.  Here’s more from the Catholic News Service so you can see the difference in meaning:

The pope also stressed that the complementarity between male and female does not necessarily entail stereotypical gender roles.

“Let us not confuse (complementarity) with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern,” he said. “Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the education of their children.”

And there you go. The pope is keeping it defined to solely marriage as husband and wife with gifts, but there is no mention of hierarchy.

Pope Francis said Christians find the meaning of complementarity in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, “where the apostle tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that — just as the human body’s members work together for the good of the whole — everyone’s gifts can work together for the benefit of each.”

That sounds beautiful to me!

“To reflect upon complementarity is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all creation,” the pope said.


Interestingly, Owen Strachan’s friend, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, was also invited to attend, and in his article,  Why I’m Going to the Vatican, he explains:

… I am willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled. In this colloquium, we come not hiding our distinctives behind some general and abstract faith, but we come to it speaking from our distinct confessional traditions to this issue. It’s an issue I believe God has revealed in the universe around us (Gen. 1-2), and that he has explained in the mystery of Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:32), which is why it is of such importance.




Russell Moore’s speech mostly discussed God creating male and females, and how that design works to further the Gospel, but he did quickly dabble into what he typically endorses, male headship.  You can read his transcribed address here.  But for the most part, it seemed that Moore stuck on track with an agenda of promoting traditional marriage of a husband and a wife.



Take a look at another Catholic source, Vatican Insider, as they describe complementarity. There’s no hierarchy here, folks, in fact, notice the word mutual:

The union between man and woman is complementary not because it forms a complete whole in itself, but because it illustrate [sic] show both are a mutual support to one another on the path toward the Creator. The birth of a child is the demonstration that this union is not just about the two people in it. The union of two people, the act of becoming one flesh, is expressed through the creation of a child through this union, when two people come together. So complementarity also means abundance, the creation of something new. (Vatican Insider Staff)

Some may wonder if I am attempting to promote Catholicism in this article by defending the Pope and Catholic publications. Not at all. I am pointing out that it’s important to understand meanings of words used in context. This event was sponsored by Catholics who used the word complementarity. If Strachan is going to jump on the bandwagon and report on this important international event where religious leaders from around the world are discussing marriage and complementarity, it’s important that he uses the word in the way in which it was intended. Owen Strachan’s use of the word always includes male headship. As far as I have seen, Pope Francis has not made any mention of hierarchy.

I think Mr. Strachan made an error when writing his article in not clearly identifying that his version of complimentarity does not align with Pope Francis’ use of the word. In fact, because of the word “mutual” above, I’m surprised Mr. Strachan hasn’t spoken out against it. It sure sounds pretty egalitarian to me.


Related links:



photo credit: Aldo Risolvo via photopin cc

Beall Phillips, Wife of Fallen Homeschool Leader and Vision Forum Founder Doug Phillips, Publicly Responds to Excommunication by Former Church

Beall Phillips, wife of fallen homeschool leader Doug Phillips (Vision Forum Founder), publicly responds to excommunication by former church, Boerne Christian Assembly



Only hours after the public notice given by Doug Phillips’ former church elders regarding his excommunication (see article, Boerne Christian Assembly Excommunicates Patriarchy and Homeschool Leader Doug Phillips), Beall Phillips, the wife of Doug Phillips, has responded to the excommunication publicly on her Facebook page.  This is not the first time she has publicly spoken. A couple of months ago, she publicly responded to a statement made by HSLDA’s Michael Farris.

Here is Mrs. Phillips’ public Facebook statement:

My Personal Response to BCA

Excommunication is without a doubt the most serious sentence pronounced when a church with jurisdiction over one of its own members, after patiently and carefully following biblical process, determines that the professing Christian who is under their jurisdiction refuses to turn from clear, gross sin. But when excommunication is used as a tool for retribution, for publicity, to influence a lawsuit, or to retroactively punish someone who is not even a member of that church, it is not only an aberration from the intended Biblical purpose, but also reflects the authoritarianism that has always held a presence in a dark corner of Christianity.

Today, Boerne Christian Assembly, a church with no jurisdiction over any member of my family, and with about six remaining active member families which includes the three recently elected leaders, (some of whom are personally entangled in controversies and conflicts of interest related to a highly publicized lawsuit) has chosen to dismiss BCA’s historic principles of church government, ignore the Scriptures, and reject their duties to honor civil jurisdictions.

While my husband is not able to respond by direction of legal counsel, and I believe it is imprudent for me to speak to many of the substantive issues, I am prepared to give my full perspective when and if that becomes appropriate. My comments here will have to suffice for the present.

First, we are happy members in good standing of Hyde Park Baptist Church, a long established city church in Austin, Texas. Our experience at Hyde Park has been uplifting, redemptive, and a genuine blessing to Doug, to me, and to our children. Our pastor gave us the freedom to communicate that he “is supportive of [our] family and does not agree with the actions of these men.”

Today’s announcement comes after we had been threatened with ecclesiastical sanctions if we did not submit privileged information, documents, and legal strategies for their oversight. The new BCA government has been informed of the impropriety of this. It is a significant conflict for someone who has an adverse interest to use a threat of ecclesiastical sanction to gain information and control over someone else.

Late in November, 2013, two things happened: an internet driven campaign was coordinated with demand letters for twenty million dollars, making false charges against BCA, against the leadership of another church in the area, as well as my family and our business, and threatened litigation against all of those individuals. In December, 2013, the BCA leadership was notified in writing on our behalf that legal necessity would compel our family to change church membership. The leadership readily acknowledged the probable implosion of the church in the wake of a lawsuit in which every member of the church could be directly involved. By January, 2014, the church environment began to break apart from gossip, fear, family in-fighting, and accusations against each other. With the increasing chaos and growing conflict in the church, families began to leave. Our family asked for and was granted formal permission by the BCA church leadership to stop worshipping at BCA and to look for another church to join. That is what we did. We only attended BCA for worship about three times in 2014. After visiting a number of churches, we began worshipping at Hyde Park in March and finalized our membership in the first half of May, 2014.

After our departure from BCA and our change of membership, a significant division within the BCA leadership reached a climax, and, led by the provisional elder, resulted in the abrupt removal of the long time ordained elder. In June, we received a series of threatening letters informing us that a new government had been established at BCA and required that we leave our church and come back to them. They threatened sanctions if we did not. It was disturbing to find that the men who wrote the letters to us, representing themselves as duly elected ordained elders to us, to the community, the internet, and the media, actually were not. When this became public, they set aside many of the historical BCA election/ ordination procedures, oversaw their own election at the end of July, and assumed their present offices. Following this election, they began sending letters again. As the harassment continued, a formal offer was presented to them that disputes be resolved through an independent third party mediator like Peacemakers. That offer was rejected.

So, now we are long gone, most of the families have left the church, a new government has been installed, and a “star chamber proceeding” has convened and pronounced judgment. The idea that the leaders of one church can excommunicate a member of another orthodox church suggests a deeper problem. The disdain demonstrated for Hyde Park Baptist is a problem. The rejection of third party mediation speaks volumes. BCA’s statement has nothing to do with biblical love, with legitimate church authority, with truth, or with the Gospel. I believe it has everything to do with self interest, fear, and a mess of conflicts of interest, many related to a lawsuit.

As for my family: We are growing. We are happy. And we are pressing on, sinful Christians as we are, daily drawing on the mercy of God, trusting Him, and not intimidated by the action of today.

Voddie Baucham, who has had ties with Doug Phillips for years with ties to family-integrated church movement also posted about the excommunication on his Facebook page.  He responds a few times to readers’ comments.

Here’s one comment in which he defends his publication of BCA’s announcement:




There’s quite a bit of interesting dialogue from Reconstructionism to polygamy.



Boerne Christian Assembly Excommunicates Patriarchy and Homeschool Leader Doug Phillips



 The elders at Boerne Christian Assembly have officially and publicly announced that Doug Phillips is now excommunicated from the church he founded.





bca, doug phillips



The notice was signed by:

Jeff Horn, Elder

David Fry, Elder

You can read the rest of the response at the Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) website.

In a previous article at SSB, you may recall that BCA made a public notice that “Vision Forum’s fallen patriarchal leader, Doug Phillips, has become a member of another church without obtaining the required “letter of transfer” from the church he established and formerly led, Boerne Christian Assembly.”  Doing so was strictly against the rules that Doug himself established for BCA. BCA is doing good by their word and following out the polity previously established at BCA, again, they are only enforcing the church rules Doug Phillips set in place for his congregants. In this article, it was also disclosed that Doug, his wife, Beall, and 2 of their sons had become members of a mega-church nearby and it was not an family-integrated church, but a traditional church with Sunday schools segregated by age, etc. The new church membership was remarkable in that it is an age-segregated church, a kind of church he taught was unbiblical.

Please note that this is a common behavior spiritual abusers use. We recently learned that Mark Driscoll left the church he established, Mars Hill, after he refused to abide by the restoration plan his elders had established before he could assume his position as pastor.  Both Mark Driscoll and Doug Phillips somehow believe they are above their own rules and elders. This behavior shows a complete lack of humility and trust in the elders who are supposed to be caring for the soul of the pastor and hold him accountable.




SSB Sunday Gathering – November 15, 2014


Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.


photo (13)



Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you.
This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.
It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.  
It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.
Our qualification comes from God.  He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant.
This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit.
The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:2-6


I ran across this story recently and it is so sweet.






Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?


Biblical Parental Authority: Is Mom Equal with Dad on the Hierarchy Ladder or is Dad on the Highest Rung?


What does the Bible say about parental authority? Is mom equal with dad?


Steve Halbrook, patriarchy, male headship, parenting


Disobedience to God can lead to judgment.

If fathers relinquish a degree of their authority in the home,

then their home could be at risk. Steve C. Halbrook


So, tell me how it works in your home.  Does mom have equal clout as dad when it comes to parenting?  How do you present yourselves as a couple to the kids?  Is dad higher up on the authority ladder or are they both on the same rung? There’s a new article out on a Theonomy Resource blog discussing just this topic.  I wanted to share excerpts here for discussion.

A little background:  blogger, Steve C. Halbrook has an “M. A. in government from Regent University (2008), with a focus on biblical civil government. His theology is Reformed” (Source).

His bio says his theology is Reformed, but to be more specific, take a look at how Wikipedia describes Theonomy and then take a look at Christian Reconstructionism while you’re at it.

The blog’s title is, Does Scripture Teach 1) Consistent Male Headship, or 2) that Parents have Equal Authority in Raising Children?

Opening paragraph attempts to make the case that if one holds to male headship, then the same hierarchy should apply with parenting, meaning women do not have an equal position of authority when it comes to raising of children:

Should male headship be consistent, or restricted? While one would think that those in conservative Christian circles would advocate the former, there are some who advocate the following: “While wives must submit to their husbands in some respects, husbands and wives have equal authority in teaching and raising children.”

If one holds that fathers and mothers have equal parenting authority simply because Scripture stresses obedience to both, then, if consistent, one would also hold that fathers and mothers have equal authority to the great God Almighty. After all, Scripture requires children to obey God as well as fathers and mothers. But surely they would not advocate such a wicked position, but would instead assume hierarchical authority by holding that God has greater authority than parents.

The next subtitle is “The doctrine of male headship opposes equal parental authority,” and attempts to establish that male headship doctrine would prohibit any possibility of women holding an equal position in hierarchy in parenting (bolding was done by blog author):

Now that it has been shown that commands to submit to both parents do not rule out the possibility that fathers have more authority than mothers, we will now rule out the possibility that such commands could mean that fathers and mothers have equal authority in parenting. In giving instructions to the church, the Apostle Paul writes:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

Halbrook then discusses Paul’s reference to the order of creation, Adam was created first, then Eve, to prove a hierarchical order.  He also mentions Paul’s reference to women being deceived to further convince his audience:

Now, how is it that one can say that women have equal authority in educating their children, if women are more prone to deception than men? If a woman’s deception is a reason that men should be in charge of teaching at church, wouldn’t it also be a reason that men should be in charge of teaching their children?

Mr. Halbrook makes note of the verse in scripture about women keeping silent in church and says:

As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:33b-35)

Here we see that at home, the husband is to be the teacher of his wife. With this being the case, how can husband and wife have equal authority in teaching their children?

Mr. Halbrook believes he has a case for why there cannot be equal parenting in a male-headship home and outlines the dangers:

It opposes Christ’s total headship over the church 

It deprives wives of spiritual and physical protection

It damages the father’s role as spiritual leader

It opposes elder qualifications and endangers the church

It devalues women

It is destructive to society

It can provoke God’s wrath

Demeaning of Women?


Ok, and here we go here we go with the dreaded f word – feminism:

Anyone who takes the doctrine of consistent male headship to mean that the mother cannot have a say in child rearing must ask himself whether he has been more influenced by feminism than by Scripture in this matter.

And now we read about the deadly influence of feminism.  Has someone died for espousing feminism? What is he talking about?  I don’t have a clue:

As for the position that says that fathers and mothers have equal parenting authority, I’m not sure how this differs from egalitarian feminism (at least in the sphere of parenting). At the very least, it reinforces the deadly influence that feminism already has in Christian circles.



photo credit: BrittneyBush via photopin cc

So, what do you think about Todd Friel’s questions to ask someone who says they are a Christian?


Todd Friel wants you to question whether or not a person is really a Christian.



Julie Anne posted this picture on the SSB Facebook page and wonders, “Should we be testing people when they tell us they are Christians?” What do you think?
As far as Kathi is concerned, I cannot get past the name “Wretched.” To me it suggests guilt and shame. I’ve watched a few of Friel’s videos and I get that impression from him as well. If you don’t have the right doctrine, you are wretched.


Fear within the Homeschool Movement Interferes with Sex Abuse Victims Getting Adequate Help and Justice for Perpetrators


Karen Campbell’s interview with Lisa Cherry on sex abuse and the Homeschool Movement and how fear is leaving children in harm’s way


homeschool movement, lisa cherry, karen campbell, sex abuse

The Prevalence of Fear of Government Intrusion in the Homeschool Community

Since writing about my personal experiences of homeschooling, I have written about a cloud of fear among Christian homeschoolers. I went to Christian homeschool conferences in the 80s and 90s and there was always a strong presence of people from Homeschool Legal Defense Association HSLDA, especially using their attorneys as keynote speakers. The keynote speaker event was widely attended, usually with a packed-out crowd (at the conventions I attended). I never attended a Christian homeschool conference in which HSLDA was not present.

Back in the earlier homeschool days, I believe HSLDA perpetuated fear among homeschoolers about any type of government agency. They sent out a list of what to do if a government official came to your door and I taped it to the inside of my cupboard. I remember discussion on e-mail groups and message boards among homeschool moms about not allowing homeschool kids to play outside during normal school hours because a neighbor or someone driving by might report you for truancy. HSLDA told stories of children being yanked from their homes because certain state homeschool laws weren’t good and your child/family could be at risk. Most likely the highlighted cases were legitimate cases where homeschool freedoms were threatened, but the fear that spread among parents led to an overall distrust of the government or any of its agencies: school authorities, social service employees, police, etc.

I had one incident in the late 90s in which my children were playing with a neighbor’s dog behind our house. The dog was left alone all day and would poke his nose through the hole in the fence. My children felt sorry for him and pet him as he poked his nose through the fence. His wagging tail was their reward. However, our neighbors didn’t care for my children’s involvement in their dog’s social life and called the police (rather than coming to let us know personally, ::::sigh::::). The police came to the door and politely asked that we not interact with the neighbor’s dog. On his way out, the police officer asked if the child behind me was my son, and I affirmed that he was. The police officer left, and sadly, I explained the dog situation to my children.

Ten minutes later, the police officer came back to our front door and asked about my son – the same son he inquired of earlier. This son had a pink mark on his face and the police officer asked about it. I realized where he was going with this very quickly. Thankfully, I didn’t react in fear, but calmly told the police officer that my son was born with a port wine stain birthmark on his cheek, that he’s been seen by medical professionals and I asked him if he’d like our pediatrician or dermatologist’s contact information. He told me that was not needed. Whew!  My heart was racing like crazy!

I cannot describe the amount of fear that had gone in my mind. I felt like our family could have been the new feature story written up in the Court Report (HSLDA’s newsletter sent out to its members). Because I, too, was living in fear, my mind raced to the worse predicted outcome. Thankfully, my calm and legitimate response showed the police officer that there was nothing for him to be concerned about, my children were safe, and that was the last we saw of him.

My story is a simple one, but exemplifies the fear many of us homeschool moms experienced, either personally, or heard through friends, or friends of friends back in the 80s and 90s. Many of us seemed to live in fear: fear of government intrusion and taking away our homeschooling rights, fear of government intrusion and even taking away our children. There was a universal distrust of the government. There was an us-vs-them mentality. Some homeschool leaders came out right and said that the government was evil, from Satan. Whatever the issue was, we needed to stay as far away from the government as possible – they were not on homeschoolers’ side.


Karen Campbell Interviews Lisa Cherry about Sex Abuse and the Homeschool Community


Karen Campbell, a veteran homeschool mom and blogger recently interviewed Lisa Cherry from Frontline Family Ministries. Part of the interview promoted an event that Lisa Cherry put together, Sexual Abuse Prevention Week For Homeschoolers, which was held during the end of October.

I listened to the second podcast in the series and it raised some alarms for me. I think Karen and Lisa have good intentions. I appreciate that they identified the problem of sex abuse among the homeschool community. But I believe they are amiss in not acknowledging something that a lot of us moms know to be true: the Christian Homeschool Movement has perpetuated fear of the government, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

And here is the point that I want to bring home: this fear that the Homeschool Movement has perpetuated, and continues to perpetuate, is putting children in harm’s way. I will show you more examples of how the fear continues to be perpetuated even in this very recent interview.Both Karen and Lisa are respected moms in the homeschool community and people will listen to and respect their words. I’m asking you to put on your critical thinking skills as we go through the interview.

Christian homeschool parents want to have complete oversight and control of their children - they feel a biblical responsibility for their children and don’t want someone else having that responsibility. I get that. But what if a parent is a perpetrator? What if the perpetrator is someone they know from church, from their homeschool co-op, etc? What, then is their responsibility?

In the interview, Karen Campbell (KC) says this:

KC: Now, when we’re talking about sexual abuse, it doesn’t, you don’t have to go very far to find somebody you know in your life who has, has struggled through this. And I will bet most of us can list people that we have known who have shared with us and I’ll bet you very few of those people were homeschooled. I will bet they were mostly, for the most part in public school.

I do not think it is appropriate for Karen to make a blanket statement sexual abuse cases between those who have been homeschooled and those who have gone to public school. This speculation, “I’ll bet,”  is not based on fact. If Karen wants to say something like this publicly, it’s important that she back it up, not endorse a long-standing agenda within the Christian homeschool community that public schools are inferior or the problem. Christians, of all people, should be committed to truth, not rhetoric.

Let’s look at some data about sexual abuse:

  • An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
  • About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
  • Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child. (National Sex Offender Public Website)


While most homeschooling parents would never sexually abuse their children or want to put their child in harm’s way, if their child has been sexually abused, the above statistics indicate that 60% of the perpetrators were known to the child, 30% of the perpetrators were family members, and only 10% were strangers. So, in looking at those statistics, each child who has been sexually abused, whether that child was homeschooled, or sent to public or private school, has a 90% chance of being sexually abused by either someone he/she knows, or a family member. It really doesn’t have to do with homeschool or public school, as Karen seemed to be implying earlier.

Kaylyn, the daughter of Lisa Cherry (LC), was sexually violated by someone the family knew. He was part of the church Kaylyn’s father pastored. Kaylyn was homeschooled, and she was a victim – note, she was part of the 90% of victims whose perpetrator was either part of the family or someone the family knew.

While Lisa Cherry and Karen Campbell are trying to directly address abuse issues, and I applaud them for that, they are missing that the fear perpetrated by the Homeschool Movement has put homeschool families in harm’s way.

Case in point, read some of these words from Lisa Cherry as she is interviewed by Karen Campbell. They are discussing Kaylyn’s story (Cherry’s daughter), and what has been going on in the homeschool community as sexual abuse stories are coming to light.  My responses: JA response in black. I bolded for emphasis, Karen Campbell = KC, Lisa Cherry = LC  We jump right into the interview as the topic of sex abuse is discussed by Lisa Cherry.

Portions of Transcribed Interview

LC: And I, and I, you know, again, I don’t want to minimize and say we don’t have any problems because we’re people. People in any culture right now will have problems because the devil roams around seeking whom he may devour. It’s a part of the human problem. We’re in an oversexualized culture.

JA response: So first the problem identified, sex abuse, is blamed on Satan – not a human who sinned. This is not an appropriate way to look at sex abuse and is not biblical. Sexual abuse is perpetrated by sinful people. Satan is not the perpetrator. In scripture we read of people committing the sin of sexual immorality, not Satan (1-corinthians 6:12-20). 

Lisa Cherry continues:

But as a community, it’s very important that we not ignore where we might be vulnerable. Instead, we become wise. Now I know that there’s some places online that are saying we need the government to step in, we need more regulation, we need to protect our kids, we need to have more rules, we need to have more laws. Karen, I don’t believe that’s the answer.

JA response: Of course not, not when you believe the government is of Satan. This is what we as homeschool parents been taught for years.

KC: No

JA response: Note that Karen goes along with Lisa.  Karen has been in the homeschool community for years and has followed the same fear bandwagon and continues to perpetuate it.

LC: I don’t believe the government will be able to protect from these kinds of very sensitive things.  

JA response: This is false. Of course the government is not perfect, but the government can and does remove children from harmful environments.  The government can arrest, prosecute and convict offenders and make sure justice is served.

LC: I think, I believe that God placed families together to provide protection for children.

JA response: That’s fine and dandy when it works, but what about when it doesn’t work? What about when a parent is an abuser or fails to properly protect their children, then what? 

LC: At the same time, I do think it’s time for us to update our own homes. So I’ve put together an event coming up now the last week of October, October 26-31. A five-day event. And I just decided we need to do something. We’ve seen enough spectacular cases. We’ve seen HSLDA try to help us with them. We’ve seen people writing about it.  Let’s just stand up as homeschoolers right now and let’s put a week worth of training together. Let’s find some of the best experts in the country that can teach us what we might need to know so that even though the culture is rolling out of control, we will not be rolling out of control.

JA response: Ok, so Lisa touches on the reality that there are some real problems. She has to, her daughter was a victim, and she is using her daughter’s story as a platform within the homeschool community. But pay attention to what she says about the government. It’s the same anti-government mantra. It seems she is saying, “So we know there’s a problem, but we can’t go to the government for help, we have to do it ourselves and that’s why I’ve put together this new conference to put these important issues on the table.”  We’ll see this thought continue.

Further in the interview:

KC: And we have temptations and we have vulnerabilities. In some ways more vulnerability because we tend to not want anybody to know we have a problem. And so…

JA response: Why do we not want anyone to know?  Because of fear – the same fear that we’ve been exposed to for years in the homeschool movement. 

LC: Yeah, Karen, let me, let me speak a word on that because, um, you know, when this happened to us, it became my worst nightmare. Because never in my life did we need more help because we had a very serious situation going on here with a child that was in a dangerous condition. I was afraid that people would, um, would blame our homeschooling. I was afraid, in some sense, I was afraid that, uh, maybe the social service would misconstrue what my daughter was saying and that we would be blamed. You know, as homeschoolers we can have a lot of fear.

JA response: Let’s look at the underscored sentence. She was afraid that if she reported, people would blame her homeschooling?

When you call authorities because your daughter was sexually violated and think “they” are going to be concerned about what method your daughter is educated?  That’s your first thought?  Where is that coming from? I believe that’s coming from the fear perpetuated in the homeschool movement that getting the government involved in our families could threaten our collective rights to homeschool our children.  In other words, your actions (even legitimate actions) could have an effect on the rights of other parents to homeschool if things go wrong. 

When your daughter is sexually violated, a parent’s first concern should be safety of their child and other children  - that a sexual predator is on the loose. The first thought should not be, “I’m afraid they are going to take away my right to homeschool my children.”   [updated this section for clarification]

KC: Oh yeah.

JA response: Ok, here we go, look at this underlying fear and how it affected this family during their crisis.  The Cherry family had to trust someone in order to get their daughter help. Well, even God’s Word talks about submitting to governing authorities and if Christians would do what God’s Word says, the government is God’s vehicle by which sexual perpetrators can be tried, convicted, and punished. God endorses this system, yet we read so many homeschoolers turning away from it and calling it an enemy of God. Ok, which one is it?  Either these verses are in the Bible or they are not. Is God’s Word truth, or is it not? If it is not, does HSLDA and their ilk have a special anti-government Bible translation, or what? What does God’s word say about civil authorities? Are they good or evil? 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:1-5

Back to the interview:

LC: You know. What, what’s gonna happen? What if I reach out and it doesn’t go well?  And we hear all these stories of, of, you know, maybe the social service people coming to your front door. And so that put more pressure on us. And here’s what I’d have to say about that.

JA response: Ironically, my friend, Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) was a speaker at the above-referenced conference. I can guarantee you that he did not paint the government and social services out to be evil. He encourages people to first report to authorities if there are concerns about sex abuse. I sure hope Boz’s sessions were well attended. He does not buy into these kinds of fears.

Cherry continues:

LC: You know, we serve a heavenly Father who loves us and in the middle of our deepest pain, He opened a path for help in front of us.

JA response: Yes, He did, it’s all written out for you in Romans 13- use the civil authorities when there is just cause to do so. That’s why they are there.

LC: My path won’t be your path. He has plans that can get us out of this mess. But, being willing, under wise counsel, to bring problems to light and to get help is wisdom.

Trying to bury problems, pretend they’re not there, cooperate with the one who works in darkness, and that won’t bring healing. And so though it, it may feel. Now we need wisdom in the way we do it. I can’t just recommend that you just run right out to anybody and start pouring your soul out. You, you need to have wise counsel. You need to know where you’re going for your help. But, you know, if the first person isn’t able to help ya, pick yourself back up and go and look for somebody else.

KC: Yes

LC: You know, because I had to go several places before we could get some help. But there are people in the body of Christ who will listen, who’ve been there, and uh, and they will support us in prayer.

JA response: I urge people, once again, when there is suspected sexual abuse, report it to civil authorities, as God’s ordained authority in the civil world, to get perpetrators brought to justice.  Then, after civil authorities are called, go to friends and counsel for spiritual guidance and support.  The first response is so important so that trained professionals can investigate and make sure the perpetrator is investigated and the victim is no longer in harm’s way.



Late edit: This tweet came in after I sent the link to this article on Twitter:




Special thanks to Kathi for transcribing the podcast and sharing it with me.

SSB Sunday Gathering – November 9, 2014


Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

photo (12)



But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ,

and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;  

to the one an aroma from death to death,

to the other an aroma from life to life.

And who is adequate for these things?

For we are not like many, peddling the word of God,

but as from sincerity, but as from God,

we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 

2 Corinthians 2:14-17



Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?


photo credit:  changing leaves from JA’s yard 

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