A homeschool mother responds to the influence of Doug Phillips in Patriarchy, in the Homeschool Movement, in Christian Homeschool Conferences, and how it has affected her family and her faith.
A comment came in a bit ago from “devaneyjoy” on the article, Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 2 – The Victim. I’m sure this commenter represents many who have a connection with Doug Phillips, either having attended his conferences or familiar with his materials. Thousands of people are landing at SSB by searching “Doug Phillips” in their search engines, and I have no doubt that her comment will resonate with many who have been influenced by him, including me, so I wanted to make her comment into a separate article for discussion.
While we have been talking about Doug Phillips and his Victim, devaneyjoy’s comment shows the far-reaching effects of Vision Forum ministries outside of Doug Phillips’ church, Boerne Christian Assembly, outside of San Antonio, TX where he lived, and into the private homes of thousands across the US and actually, the world.
Some people ask may ask: how can Doug Phillips and his message affect people in their private homes? He’s not there to “rule” over them? How does this work?
Let’s read from devaneyjoy (in purple font):
I was sexually and spiritually abused by a spiritual leader in our church starting at age 13. Unless you have lived that experience, you cannot understand the anguish and struggle it is to be whole again with both God and self. The shame, the confusion, the lost innocence, losing the childlike faith you had in God and “Jesus loves me this I know” because you no longer “know”. S’s comments obviously show her own unhealed, bitter woundedness from her husband’s unfaithfulness, as it is a very selfish stance to ever blame the one under the control of a man of such age, authority, spiritual position and charm as DP (and my own abuser).
I would be interested in doing a study to find out how many who were abused as a child are drawn to a dynamic leader like Doug Phillips. I came from an abusive childhood background and I’ve noted a pattern here.
I was sucked into the Patriarchial mess 9 years ago when our state’s Christian homeschool conference changed from teaching us how to teach our children, to guilting us in how badly we were living as families of faith.
Note where devaneyjoy said it all began, at a Christian homeschool conference. If you go to a Christian homeschool conference, do your homework. Who are the speakers and who do they represent? Many of the so-called “Christian homeschool conferences” should probably be renamed Christian Patriarchy Conference or Christian Reconstructionist Conference. You will likely find speakers in these conferences promoting these two ideologies. It’s important to understand this influence.
A large percentage of “Christian homeschool conferences” are run by people who have an agenda to push. I naively thought when I went to my first Christian homeschool convention that I would meet with other Christians who wanted information on how to educate our children at home in a Christian environment, access to Christian curricula, etc. You will certainly find some of this at these conventions. And because you will find some of this, you might get sucked in to believe that everything presented there is okay.
I also had an idea that there would be a wide range of Christians attending the conference: non-denominational, maybe a few charismatics, Reformed, Baptists, you know, your basic hodgepodge mix of Christians from both in attendance and speakers. The idea that there would be a mix of curricula to choose from, too, crossing different doctrinal lines, occurred to me, too. I didn’t see much of that.
Those doctrinal differences weren’t discussed or easily noticed. However, from the speakers, we heard a common language of how godly homeschooling parents should be raising their children. Homeschooling parents were raising their children the godly way by not sending their “blessings” to government schools to be indoctrinated by evil. devaneyjoy expresses this here:
In my own spiritual mess of striving to please God, as I was not yet whole from the abuse, I quickly fell for the charm, the smiling, happy-looking families, the mandate that to be right with God we must live their way.
Yup, sometimes we’d see the charming children with their matching homemade dresses/attire, lined up like ducklings follow Mama Duck. These families had the perfect family image. How did they do it with all of those children? Could I measure up?
To have our children saved, faith-filled, strong in the Lord, we must live their way. To pass on the mantle of faithfulness that the world could not destroy in them or future generations, we must live their way–and of course, that meant buying and using what they sold.
That is what I observed, too. At the vendor’s table, they had the perfect books and materials to help you achieve your godly family. You would be able to read from others who somehow became homeschool celebrity experts who jumped on the homeschool speaker circuit, became authors in the midst of homeschooling their large families, and could give you advice and encouragement – – – all pushing their pet topic or agenda.
This was like an Amway pep rally, except for homeschool families. I remember getting very pumped up at each convention. This was awesome. It was nothing like I could get at my own church where my own pastor wasn’t exactly doing things the right way. After all, he was sending his children to private school and wasn’t “raising his children in the way they should go.” Instead, he was shirking his responsibility off to other Christian teachers.
Yes, we homeschoolers were doing it the right way. I remember going back to my home church and looking down at my pastor and other families in disdain for their choice of sending their kids to public or private schools after hearing a weekend of “we homeschoolers were doing it the godly way” and patting ourselves on the back.
For 3 1/2 years I wore skirts only. I finally convinced my husband to let us go to a FIC. We were all miserable, but that only meant that I was failing to “get it right”.
If you thought peer pressure was a challenge in high school, the peer pressure among women in the Christian homeschool arena is just as strong, if not stronger. Because now you are doing it for the Lord and you should not mess up the “Lord’s work.” This is serious stuff. Your children’s lives are at stake. There really is a lot of pressure to be the perfect Proverbs 31 homeschooling mom, wear the right clothes, dress modestly the way they viewed modesty. You are responsible for shaping the next generation of visionary daughters and sons.
You notice the mention of FIC – – that is family-integrated churches – a very strong movement in the Christian Homeschool Movement. You see, homeschool families are learning together as a family without segregating the children by ages, so it’s a natural extension to bring this concept to church, worship together as a family and say this is the right way, not like those other “less-than churches who send kids off to Sunday school by age groups or especially the dreaded youth groups which are really social clubs where kids engage in sinful activities, not Christ-redeeming work.” Do you see how this message of “we’re doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong” is presented in the homeschooling community?
Look at this pressure she feels:
Somehow, someway, I was missing the message.
So much fear grew in me.
My family, my children were not going to turn out right.
I was failing them and failing God. Wow!!
Exactly what my abuser had once told me, “Saying no to him was saying no to God and failing him was failing God.”
I just found out about all of this on Saturday when I came across the World magazine article on DP someone posted on Facebook. Although we have been away from the FIC for 5 years and patriarchial thinking in general for 3, it was fresh salt to the wounds. I have thousands of $’s in materials from VF that have been sitting on shelves untouched because I have been so unsure, uncertain in what to believe. Today, I will box them up for the dump. I see freedom in my future. But for now, this is all so very painful.
Unless you have walked in any shoes similar to Victim, you CANNOT understand. To be sinned against in such a way, in the name of Jesus, is indescribable. I apologize for writing so much, but I do appreciate having a safe place to express these deep emotions. Thank you!
I want to continue to make sure this place is one where people like devaneyjoy can discuss these issues and get free from the spiritual bondage and unnecessary pressures that are so common within this movement.
Note: Please read devaneyjoy’s full comment here.