Courtship, Homeschool Movement, Modesty and Purity Teachings, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement, Vision Forum

Fathers and Daughters: Who Owns a Daughter’s Heart?


“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’” 

 ~Doug Phillips

Earlier I discussed influences in the homeschooling movement and mentioned that patriarchy has infiltrated the movement as well as in churches.  I was surprised at the accuracy of Wikipedia’s definition of Biblical patriarchy and, in particular, the men they identified who are associated with patriarchy:

Biblical patriarchy (also known as Christian patriarchy) is a set of beliefs in evangelical Christianity concerning marriage, the family, and the home. It sees the father as the head of the home, and responsible for the conduct of his family. Notable adherents of biblical patriarchy include Douglas Wilson,[1] R. C. Sproul, Jr.[2] and Douglas Phillips. Notable publications include Patriarch magazine and Above Rubies.[3] The biblical patriarchy movement has been said to be “flourishing among homeschoolers.”[4]


The “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” published by Vision Forum advocates such beliefs as

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • 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.[5]

*     *     *

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Ministries is probably the biggest proponent of the Patriarchal movement that I have seen in my circles.  I remember when Doug Phillips was speaking at homeschool conventions in the 90s.  He had packed-out audiences promoting his brand of Christianity as “the” brand of Christianity.  Some of his brand of Christianity included:  patriarchy, full-quiver, family-integrated churches, homeschooling as the only choice for educating one’s children, etc.


Don and Joy Veinot of Midwest Christian Outreach examined Vision Forum’s stance on patriarchy and wrote an article on their conclusions.  You can find the complete pdf file here.  


I took a few screen shots from the pdf file.  The words in bold font are taken from Biblical Tenants of Patriarchy taken from Vision Forum.  The words in normal font are Don and Joy Veinot’s words.  



Don and Joy sum it up nicely here:


It is important to understand this teaching because it can infiltrate a church not only from the pulpit, but from church members on the inside.  And of course there are varying degrees of patriarchy that I have noted from readers who have sent me their personal stories.  I have been shocked at the treatment of women from patriarchal homes.  If the church preaches a patriarchal lifestyle, an abused wife cannot only be abandoned physically, emotionally, and spiritually by her husband, but by her pastor as well.  It is a very difficult system to leave.


I want to focus specifically on the daughters of patriarchal homes.  Below is a clip from the movie, Courageous, which includes some patriarchal themes.   Take a look and see if you can spot how the father uses his position as father to “own” his daughter’s heart.  This scene involves the father explaining that he wants to be the guardian of his daughter’s heart and gives her a “purity” ring, symbolizing her virginity, which will later be replaced by her wedding ring when she gets married.   It is notable that the movie’s director and producer, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, have ties with Vision Forum.  


Blogger, Cindy Kunsman from Under Much Grace discusses this particular movie scene shown above.  


Dating Daddy and his Proposal

I found the daddy-daughter date scene to be disturbing.  Essentially, the father proposes to his daughter, using language which indicates that he considers himself to be on equal footing and of the same order of person with his daughter’s potential mates.  Consistent with the belief within this subculture that young women remain married to the father through ownership until they marry another father-vetted and approved man, the father in the film uses the language of Vision Forum to reinforce the ideology of courtship.  Such a system which Vision Forum promotes as Biblical was not even demanded under Judaism, a concept that they filter through their distorted version of Covenant Theology.  (Read more HERE.)   So to adapt and cope with the inherent risks of trusting a daughter to conduct herself with dignity, grace and chastity, the father overcorrects for his legitimate concerns and fears through an extra-Biblical ritual which signifies ownership.  I felt sick at the close of the father-daughter date scene as the daughter gazed at the father’s heart-shaped ring that he actually places on her finger after his proposal – a proposal that she was duty bound to accept as an obedient daughter.  (With a suitor, she presumably has the liberty to decline such a proposal, that is, if her father decides to allow her that liberty. Not all do in patriarchy.)

This idea of dad owning his daughter’s heart is commonplace in families and churches which promote patriarchy.  We are now beginning to see young adults who have come out of this environment, many times filled with negative emotions and a host of other issues as they come to grips with this type of control in their personal lives.   These young adults are blogging and telling their stories.  We will be discussing more on this topic.  

47 thoughts on “Fathers and Daughters: Who Owns a Daughter’s Heart?”

  1. Tom, the sad thing about it is this post just scratches the surface. What is interesting is I don't recall any Christians speaking about that video clip shown above when the movie was out. In fact, in my circle of friends, people were excited that "courtship" was getting in the mainstream spotlight and they portrayed it in such a sweet and loving way. But who does this ideology benefit? I'll be exposing the other side of this story that Doug Phillips and his ilk don't want to be seen. Meanwhile, patriarchs are going to "purity balls" with their daughters, having them sign covenants, turning their virginity over to their fathers to oversee, letting their father decide who and when they can court. Oh, and notice where is mom in this picture?


  2. This is an important topic. I used to be a fan of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. I bought their books and DVDs.But what I came to see was that Vision Forum idolizes the American past as if it were biblical precept. They have confused cultural roles and values with biblical commands. Instead of engaging the large amount of A-level Christian scholarship which calls into question Patriarchal assumptions, Doug Phillips and Vision Forum have promoted a simplistic view of the past. But Ecclesiastes 7:10 clearly says that the past was no better than the present.As a lawyer, Doug Phillips should not object to vigorous debate about the tenets of Christian Patriarchy. Gordon Fee, Craig Keener, and Sarah Sumner, among others, offer robust and biblically-sound arguments which call into question modern patriarchal movements. Any reader who wants to maintain fair-minded openness to this issue must first read these authors before settling on a particular position.Thanks for continuing this important discussion, Julie Anne.


  3. Hi Steve: Nice to "see" you! Years ago I actually recommended Doug Phillips to my husband. I sure regret that! We had CDs and his materials, too. In fact, we still get their Vision Forum magazine. I was going to throw it away, but then thought there is probably good material for blog posts. Maybe if Vision Forum figures that out, they will remove me from their mailing list :)What I find very coincidental is that all 3 men Wikipedia listed as notable men in the patriarchal movement (Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, and RC Sproul, Jr.), have been involved in spiritual abuse in one extent or another (do Google searches). RC Sproul, Jr. was defrocked for spiritual abuse in his church and changed to a different group. If these men who are leaders in the movement have been accused of spiritual abuse, imagine what is happening in their churches and homes of their church members where they also promote patriarchal teachings. I have been reading personal stories from wives who are in patriarchal churches and there is no place for them to turn if their spouses are abusing them and also the pastor endorses a Patriarchal viewpoint. The father is elevated to the level of idolatry in the family and wives basically do not have a voice. If she complains to her pastor, the pastor many times overlooks it and says she is sinning by not submitting, etc. The husband as "priest of the home" is respected so much in that environment that his wife's words mean very little. What we are seeing as this relates to courtship is that the fathers will not turn their daughters over to just anybody for courting. They are waiting for a young man to come along who shares his ideologies. In the film above, they act like the daughters are so respected and treated well, but that is not what becomes the reality in many of these situations after this cute little purity ring ceremony. The daughters are trained to serve their father as priest of the home until he turns her over to be courted. It is a setup to repeat the "priest of the home" pattern where wife pops out babies, serves her husband and that is her primary lot in life. Readers: If you have not checked out Steve's blog, please do when you get a chance. He is an excellent writer and shares his story of spiritual abuse. Click on "libertyforcaptives" name or you can find the link in my sidebar under "interesting reads, etc" .


  4. “Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’”i.e. the Daughter is wholly-owned property of the Father until such time as the Father sells her to a Husband and transfers ownership?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I found the daddy-daughter date scene to be disturbing. Essentially, the father proposes to his daughter, using language which indicates that he considers himself to be on equal footing and of the same order of person with his daughter's potential mates.Why do I hear the punch line of a forgotten dirty joke?"INCEST IS BEST"?


  6. Yes, it's all about ownership. Daughter servers daddy until he's ready to give her up to someone he approves of. What if daddy likes his wife and daughters serving him forever? Isn't that kind of cute? ::::::sarcasm, blech::::::


  7. My kids and husband did taekwondo for a couple of years. The owners were big into patriarchy and their kids (I mean children) were very involved. Their daughter, at the time, was 16 and she used to tell me how she wanted to go on the mission field, but, she would need to wait until she was married to join her husband. I made it my goal to challenge her thinking on the need to find a husband and told her that God had made her perfectly able to go to college or on the mission field on her own. I don't think she bought it, but I loved that I maybe put some "doubt" in her mind about her ability to make it in the world on her own.


  8. You mean they didn't kick you out for being divisive and planting seeds of dissension in their daughter? LOLWhat do these people think about people like Elizabeth Elliot, anyway?


  9. Thank you for continuing to expose this flawed belief system. Agreed, spiritual abuse runs quite high in patriarchal circles. People feel sorry for women and girls oppressed in other religions and cultures. There is a need to take a look at what is peddled as Christian in patriarchal circles and see if there are not some disturbing similarities.A patriarchal belief system is far from the Gospel of Grace found in the New Testament Scriptures. It is a convoluted weaving of Old Testament stipulations for the children of Israel and a present day patriarchal view for the Christian home and the church. It does not value the completed work of Christ in redemption and his pouring out of the Holy Spirit on men and women. The liberty that is to be found ‘in Christ’ is twisted and frozen in a lifestyle that though it 'appears' to honor God, does not. It appeals only to a perversion of Christian belief. It is an offense to the true Gospel of Christ.


  10. Hoooo weee if that is how a woman has to be to gain the kingdom of heaven, I've already earned myself a seat by the fire in a location much further south.


  11. Does the approved husband-to-be still have to agree to seven years of labor per daughter, or has the exchange rate of the dollar affected the purchase price of these arrangements too?


  12. A church I attended showed this movie and I did attend and saw the movie. As the father of two daughters this movie made me both angry and very uncomfortable as I watched it. But I saw many people who seemed to be enjoying it.


  13. My son went to youth group with his friends this past Sunday and he saw the end of Courageous. He has been asking me if we can watch it at home. I so do not want to watch this movie, but maybe I'll need to break down and do it so we can have a good discussion.


  14. I think there's a lot of excitement when a "Christian" movie comes out. We want it to be good, we want to like it and support it because we've seen the alternative.


  15. That's funny, Kathi, on my way to choir today, I was thinking it would be good to discuss this post with our 18-yr old daughter. She's been around these circles for many years. Buff: I know, pass me the fan!


  16. Oh, Tom – I almost forgot – – did you sign the men's covenant thing at the end? Our church had a special day with some sort of covenant signing after they encouraged families to see the movie (I was not there that day). I just don't get these Christian fads. If God had wanted mens to sign covenants, I think that would be pretty clear in the Bible. I thought our "yes" was to be "yes".


  17. I don't think people really understand what is going on with this movement – even in Christian circles. They think "Patriarch" – – oh, that's like Abraham – Abraham was in the Bible, so it must be good. They just do not understand what is going on. Doug Phillips and Vision Forum has done a good job of CONvincing us that his ways are God's ways. Who can argue with God?


  18. I am a 38-year-old single Christian female (JA posted some of my story a while back). I was raised by a Christian mother and a Catholic father. Following the logic of the patriarchal movement, I am a lost cause. My mother always taught me that it was through Jesus alone that salvation was obtained. These teachings when followed through to their logical conclusion totally trump that theory by teaching that woman cannot obtain salvation except through a man. I've read the Bible a few times and I have never seen this "gospel centered" teaching even alluded to.Ugh. Thanks JA for continuing to bring this topic forward.


  19. Interesting that you said this started being preached in the 90's. I stopped attending a Bible based church in the late 80's because of so much B.S. I saw at church, preaching things but in practice doing the opposite. Because of the events of 9/11, and I started attending church again. I was completely floored by the patriarchal ideology which now seems to permeate American christianity. It looks so much like the Amish and Mormanism to me. Having been removed from church environment while patriarchy crept in, I think it is strange that so many would embrace these ideas as being part of the gospel. I just want Jesus. Everything else is futility!


  20. Nice to "see" you, Shakes. You are exactly right about the logical conclusion about salvation. That is why I love Pastor Wade Burleson's sermon I posted a while back, because it destroys that misconception that those in the Patriarchal movement try to convey. That is false teaching and there is no way around it. Here is the link to the post I did with Wade's great sermon: – I just noticed that both posts include the words "who owns" in it. That is precisely what the Patriarchal movement is about "ownership".


  21. Wallflower – Exactly! I'm sure it was going on before that, but that is when I noticed it really coming out in the homeschool movement. You were cool if you looked like that image of: full quiver, matchy clothes, dresses only, etc, (you know the look – the big families on the homeschooling magazines – lol). It does remind me of Mormon/Amish, too – – they both do shunning, too!


  22. Here's a thought from Wiki re chattel. Note the spiritual picture at the end!"Chattel marriage refers to a form of marriage in which the husband owned his wife, and any children of their union, in a legal relationship similar to that of slavery. The only meaningful difference was that there were a few legal restrictions to the husband's right to physically abuse or sell his wife or child. The term refers to the root word 'cattle', from which comes 'chattel', which refers to personal property, as opposed to real property, such as land.Most European noblewomen were party to chattel marriages, although if they brought money or property with them to the marriage, there were usually contracts involved, and "dower rights" were preserved to the wives. The only English wives who were neither wealthy nor chattels were princesses, the daughters of kings." !!!


  23. Shakes, you're sooo not a lost cause! I'm in my 30s and single also. It's sad but true that the world is much more fair, gracious and accepting of women being single and independent without stigma and expectations than the church is. On this election day, I'm so grateful to be living in the 21st century, where my voice is heard through my vote. I'm grateful to have had the encouragement to go to college and to pursue my goals. I'm grateful to have a job that contributes to society. And I'm grateful I am no longer part of a patriarchal church. Whether we are single or married, working or at home, we are individuals made in God's image. Our worth is not in what we do. Those who promote this teaching and calling it "gospel centered" are hijacking the real gospel. Gender roles and the assigned duties associated with them do not save us- Jesus does!


  24. Great response, Recovering!! I greatly value the input you and Shakes give here and send me privately. You represent so many who are experiencing the same thing and I don't want to forget singles. It really opened my eyes a while back and as I visited a different church one weekend, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a single in that church – – – how could I fit in? were mostly families here? etc. It really sent me a loud message that churches do not do enough to help integrate singles.


  25. After leaving my old church because of changes I did not like (and I wasn't the only one who left), I tried to find another church and went several times to a Baptist church in my neighbourhood. I quit going because as a single, I didn't fit in and there was no way that I could see to connect with anyone there. They had a coffee fellowship once in a while followed by the "Home Builders Class" and the other adult Sunday School class was doing a session on marriage. Which one should I have gone to? Then there was the once-a-month dinners for 6. That says 3 couples to me. I left in tears one morning when the minister started his sermon with, "There are those who are married, those who have been married, and those who are not married yet".


  26. I know the feeling, Shannon. Any time a sermon overly emphasizes marriage, it's so easy to feel immediately invisible. It's one thing to preach on one of the few passages that overtly addressed marriage (and even then, word choice should be careful so as not to exlude, in my opinion, just as I think pastors need to do a much better job keeping in mind the nonbeliever's perspective, rather than always assuming everyone in the congregation believes/lives the same way). But so often, I hear messages that some how end up widdling down the heart of the gospel to the ideal family/marriage/etc, as though that is the only way in which a church grows and the gospel goes forward. Primary way, sure. Only way? Um, check out 1 Cor 7.Thanks you, Julie Anne, for being sensitive to this topic among the others you cover on here. How awesome and healthy churches would be if they simply aknowledged that these issues exist, and allowed a safe space for people to discuss their differing points of view and experiences.


  27. I want to vomit… this is not the first time I have heard of this kind of stuff. I have no doubt that you have heard of Randy Wilson and his PURITY BALLS. It is so alarming to me. I have to wonder how many of those Fathers are also sexually abusing their daughters….It crosses over so many boundaries.


  28. It's sad. There may not be actual incest, but there is a level of emotional incest portrayed in this type of thinking – – especially troublesome when daddy cannot seem to find the right spouse for his beloved daughter.


  29. Hi Kathy – Welcome! I don't think I've seen you here before. I definitely know of Randy Wilson and his purity balls. I wish you could see my draft posts. I have a whole collection of them on this garbage. I keep adding to them. I work best when I'm fired up. I'm a little distracted this weekend with my daughter's volleyball tournament, but oh yea, that post is coming. I wonder, too, about the crossing of the lines. I think that if there is some incest going on, it is most likely emotional. I was involved in this movement to an extent with my eldest daughter and we've been talking about it. I'm glad we have an open relationship and can discuss these things, but it has sure opened my eyes over these last few years as I have put two and two together and also seen the results of it in the lives of young adults who have lived it.


  30. Hi – I'm the principal contributor to the Wikipedia article you mentioned. I'm glad you find it accurate – though I would hope the other side would as well.


  31. Just a thank you for this even thought this post is 1 1/2 years old. I was glad to have it to refer back to and link to for a post I wrote yesterday. Since I don’t know how to pingback nor am I sure I am able to, I thought I’d drop this thank you here so you and others would know the importance of keeping up on these trends and having these older posts around for people to find, use, and refer back to.

    Thanks again


  32. Hi Mara,

    Thanks for the kind note. I don’t have to do anything for ping backs. When I link to another article, if the other blogger accepts ping backs, it is done automatically. I didn’t notice a ping back and I do accept them, so maybe it has to do with the blog setup on your side. Who knows – lol.

    Yes, this subject is a hot one and it is very important to keep talking about it. Go Mara. I’m going to read your article now!


  33. Lord, bring discernment, and ears to hear, for “there is a way that seems right to a man but, in the end, leads to destruction”.

    I think, despite your arguments here, I still stand – generally speaking – with Mr Phillips. There is a strong resistance and opposition to just about all of the channels of authority today that God has put in place, and I am reminded that, in the end, “everyone will do what is right in their OWN eyes”. Even Jesus said “Not my will but yours be done.” It seems to me that this strong gravity to our own wills rather than the authority instituted by God is creating such offense that it has become more convenient to just dispense of it. Ultimately, I think that discarding a more strict view of authority is ultimately an affront to God, and will be a primary basis for the judgement that will come on the church upon Christ’s return.


  34. Ken2, the problem is not with authority but with authority in the world’s eyes. To the world, the definition of authority is being a benefactor – being a head, being a boss, being the one that people look up to. Mr. Phillips fits well into that style of authority. He used his authority to manipulate and deceive people.

    Jesus did not promote that authority. He overturned tables. He yelled at the spiritual authorities and called them vipers and hypocrites.

    So, when you say “strict” I think you are saying “worldly” rather than godly, and I deny that God calls me to submit strictly to that authority, in the same way that Jesus did not submit strictly to that authority, but instead called it out as false.


  35. @ Ken2

    “I think, despite your arguments here, I still stand – generally speaking – with Mr Phillips. ”

    Doug Phillips is a sexually abusive pervert. And you agree with his misogynistic fetishes?

    I grew up with a hyper-conservative patriarchal father. I never respected him and do not consider him a parent at all. As someone who grew up with a conservative Christian father I consider them not to be fathers at all, but misogynistic loser men who marry either a brainwashed self-hating woman or a perverted woman like them and use her body to get females to own and control. Patriarchal men are not fathers at all. They are selfish misogynistic sadomasochistic scum bags that make their daughter’s lives toxic hell. I wish I never knew my patriarchal father. The man was a stupid evil selfish joke. He was a wonderful representative of Christian patriarchy. The reason he embraced patriarchy is because he had such a feeble ego he needed the ego bust and he knew any woman that could would tell him to hit the road. He was scared of women and embarrassing.

    “It seems to me that this strong gravity to our own wills”

    Actually, it is a strong gravity towards liberty and freedom. A strong gravity of not being a trapped slave. Are you saying women and girls do not have the right to be free of men if they want to? My father did not deserve for me to kiss his @ss.

    “There is a strong resistance and opposition to just about all of the channels of authority today that God has put in place”

    What authority? Are you saying at age 18 I did not have the right to leave my father’s house and tell him no? That is trapped slavery. It is the reason I am an atheist now and speak out against selfish, sadistic, creepy, loser Christian men. It is the reason I tell everybody and always will that patriarchal Christian fathers belong in the same category as Ariel Castro, Phillip Garrido, Congressional Candidate Nathan Larson, Keith Raniere, Drew Peterson, ISIS, and The Taliban.

    “Ultimately, I think that discarding a more strict view of authority is ultimately an affront to God, ”

    Whose authority? Yours? Considering the evil men all over the world heap on women and little girls, like sex slavery, being sold as sex slaves, get whipped for being raped I think it is so embarrassing when a man says he should have authority over a woman or girl. Very selfish and embarrassing. And you belong in the same category with men who do those things. My mother suffered through pregnancy, childbirth, and post childbirth with me. She nursed me. My father did not do a thing. He was just some dope patriarchal man I had the miss fortune of living with and knowing after I was born. The fact that he talked about his authority and was patriarchal is proof he was a misogynistic bad human being.

    I would be too embarrassed to say, I have decided I have authority over men, and if they reject my authority they are anti-God. I do not need authority over other people. If other people want nothing to do with me I do not want to FORCE them to have me in their lives.

    And patriarchal men do not want to take responsibility for their selfishness.
    It isn’t Gods fault, Jesus’s fault, the devil’s fault, the Bible’s fault, women’s fault, or little girls fault. It is selfish insecure patriarchal men’s fault. They need to grow up, own it, and stop blaming everything and everybody else.


  36. “It seems to me that this strong gravity to our own wills”

    I think that would be the case for the kind of man who thinks his daughter is not allowed to pick her own husband…


  37. Daughters can’t just go out independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’

    Since this is an old thread, I just want to say that this is bonkers.


  38. Also, was ken#38423874 just googling patriarchy on fathers day or something and decided to weigh in?


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