To the [popular and solid Christian organization] 1 staff,
It’s been a privilege to know [ministry contributor] for five years, since meeting him at the [university name]. In April 2005 he and I […] both attended an on-campus lecture by [atheist spokesperson, well-known as enemy of Christian organization]. We soon found each other to be Christian brothers and have stayed in touch ever since.
Recently […] we have been discussing the organization Vision Forum (VF) and its beliefs about “patriarchy.” My wife and I have been married for a year and we are strong and joyful “complementarians,” believing the Biblical truth (in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere) that God has patterned husband/wife roles and marriage after the loving union between Christ and His Church. However, we have concerns about VF, and [your organization’s] affiliation with this organization — which has included offering VF materials and columns on VF’s website.
[My friend] has asked my wife and I to relay to [your] staff some sourced quotes from VF’s online materials.
No doubt you have heard of some online sites whose writers — some of whom push un-Biblical feminism — play “watchdog” against Vision Forum and its affiliates. But because of the difficulty in sorting through these (and sorting truth from opposite error, including many true-life raving “Christian feminists,”) we have not included their critiques. Instead we ourselves have collected the following quotes, and I (Stephen) have written some thoughts on VF’s views, and especially its misuse of Scripture to support them.
Our concern is not based on any cultural “fundamentalist” belief in “strict separation” or “second-degree separation.” Nor do we claim to have all the “issues” against VF or its affiliates presented here. Rather, we ask: does [your ministry] know about VF’s beliefs in at least three areas? We also hope your staff will undertake their own careful research into VF’s teachings, found online and in their tapes, DVDs and books.
Here our emphasis will be VF’s “patriarchy” beliefs that they’ve publicly articulated, and not any “under the table” teachings. We also include quotes from Vision Forum-approved leaders (many of whom are women), such as Jennie Chancey of the Ladies Against Feminism website, and the Botkins.
1. Vision Forum insists a Christian woman must not obtain an education or hold a job outside the home; rather, if she is unmarried, she must stay under her human father’s authority.
Though many Christians (including me) would argue against this view, it is not itself anti-Biblical. However, VF does not seem to recognize this as an issue about which Christians can hold different views. VF’s leaders and resources encourage all Christian young women to remain under their human fathers’ spiritual authority and vision for his family, until the father releases his daughter to be married.
Thus, the Gospel and true Biblical authority on actual unquestionable matters are both sadly cheapened.
22. 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. Fathers release sons from their jurisdiction to undertake a vocation, prepare a home, and take a wife. Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection.
The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, authors and date unlisted, Vision Forum website (emphasis added; accessed June 7, 2010)
Readers can decide whether Vision Forum’s cited verses for the specific beliefs about father/daughter relationships (Genesis 28:1-2; Numbers 30:3ff.; Deuteronomy 22:21; Galatians 4:1,2; Ephesians 6:2-3) are faithful and natural readings of Scripture, taking into account the differences between Old and New Covenants; and, for the epistle references, the simple contexts of the Apostle Paul’s arguments. Yet in my view, VF here has contradicted sound hermeneutical principles (which the organization says it endorses).
How does a woman blaspheme the Word of God? This isn’t something we can just brush aside or take lightly as a “cultural thing.” . . . A woman cannot both “keep at home” (or “guard the house”) and “keep” in a separate workplace. She cannot both “obey her own husband” (emphasis mine) and obey another boss (even if it is one for whom her husband has asked her to work).
Jennie Chancey Responds to Titus 2 Cynics, Jennie Chaney, Dec. 10, 2003, Vision Forum website (accessed June 7, 2010).
By contrast, a recent post to the “Ladies Against Feminism” site, by Jasmine Baucham (daughter of Dr. Voddie Bauchum) offers a kinder and more grace-based approach that simply encourages women to rethink any wrong ideas they hold about Biblical roles and their education choices.
However, VF’s resources, articles and culture overwhelmingly see only secular feminism as Christian families’ main enemy. They do not talk about the risks of overcorrecting into chauvinism, much less the possibility of minimizing Christ’s role as believers’ only High Priest in their haste to uphold fathers’ roles as their families’ heads. Worse, statements about fathers’ “authority” over adult unmarried daughters are not accompanied by Gospel-centered context or support for this teaching from Scripture.
By serving her mother, creating a peaceful home atmosphere, and furthering her father’s goals, this young woman is a blessing to her family and to others. Her secret is placing herself under her father’s authority and at his disposal, content in her God-given role. This daily training has another reward—she will be well-fitted for marriage as a help-meet suitable for her husband. Fellow daughters, do you truly work at pleasing your father and helping him to accomplish his goals? Do you enjoy spending time with him?
Being Your Father’s Daughter, Elisha Ann Wahlquist, June 27, 2005, Ladies Against Feminism website (accessed June 7, 2010)
To raise a daughter without thought to marriage, to instill in them a spirit of independence from the family, or to focus their training on a career outside the home, is actually to disqualify them for graduation and the next step in life. In contrast, a woman who meets the biblical requirements for graduation is one who is comfortable being under the jurisdiction of her father and seeks to make him successful in every way.
Christian Graduations and Young Ladies, Doug Phillips, June 16, 2003, Vision Forum website (emphasis added; accessed June 7, 2010).
Let me tell you, there is liberty in submission. There is liberty in submitting to your father. Don’t let your heart be taken captive by the independent spirit of feminism. We as daughters are not sufficient to guard our hearts — God has placed us under the authority of our fathers to protect our hearts.
So I encourage you — give your heart fully to the Lord Jesus Christ and to your father (or if you are married, to your husband) and be under his authority. Find your mission in being his helpmeet. Your job is to honor and serve him as your leader, your protector, your head. The Word of God tells us as women to delight in being keepers at home and to love children. We are to make our father’s (or husband’s) home and work as productive as possible.
The Feminism of the Mothers is the Destruction of the Daughters, Sarah Zes, Jan. 14, 2004, Vision Forum website (emphasis added; accessed June 7, 2010).
VF and affiliated advocates seems not to recognize the lack of any Biblical support for the false dichotomy that either a daughter is influenced by worldly feminism or she must serve as her father’s “help-meet,” being under his authority and serving his vision until such time as the father allows her to be married.
In this seemingly polarized view of either compromising feminist Christian or Biblical “patriarchy” believer, VF ignores Biblical balance and emphasis on Christ, His holiness and love (and sacrifice under God’s wrath for sin). And secondarily the Gospel brings Biblical complementarianism, which upholds husband and wife roles of loving leadership and submission, yet also recognizes cultural variables and Scripture’s silence about whether fathers ought to have authority over their daughters until giving daughters to husbands, etc.
2. Vision Forum promotes father-supervised “courtship,” not just as optional or beneficial for Christians, but required especially for a man’s daughter.
This concept recurs in many VF articles and resources, and is often promoted by VF-affiliated homeschool moms (such as Jennie Chancey) as part of the antidote to feminism. These principles are purported to be based on several Scripture verses — whose application upon closer inspection utterly falls apart.
23. Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse. While a father may find a wife for his son, sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.” A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process. Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her. Upon a Marriage taking place, a new household with new jurisdiction is established, separate from that of the father. (Gen. 24:1ff.; 25:20; 28:2; Ex. 2:21; Josh. 15:17; Jdg. 12:9; 1 Sam. 18:27; Jer. 29:6; 1 Cor. 7:38; Gen. 24:58)
The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, authors and date unlisted, Vision Forum website (emphasis added; accessed June 7, 2010)
The above-listed Scriptures do not at all support VF’s this-is-how-it-should-be assertions about courtship.
1 Corinthians 7:38 could be addressing a father and daughter, or a man and his betrothed, or other scenarios. According to my reading, Biblical scholars disagree on exactly what is happening here. But VF’s citation of this Scripture as only applying to fathers and daughters, not even allowing for differing views by orthodox and even Biblical-complementarian scholars and readers, is at best disingenuous.
Scripture also describes Old-Testament men (such as Abraham, Jethro and Saul) giving their daughters in marriage, but never endorses this as the Biblical method for a man to find his daughter’s spouse.
VF is guilty of eisegesis and bad hermeneutics, applying descriptive Scriptures as if they are prescriptive.
This text fails to provide context and read Scripture naturally, rather, forcing from narrative a lifestyle that Scripture does not promote. Such “literal” readings, in the wrong sense, disrespect God’s Word and give credence to atheists’ and skeptics’ false charges that too many Christians “read all of the Bible literally.”
3. Vision Forum has obscured many views of its leaders by removing videos, resources and articles due to their controversial statements — yet has not publicly amended its beliefs.
This is less substantive than other criticisms, but still worth mentioning. Perhaps the clearest example is this: without explanation or retraction, VF has removed articles that directly claim it is a sin, and a violation of the role of Christian husbands as heads of household, for a woman to go to college or vote in elections.
And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?
[. . .]
God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim. 2:11 ff).
Originally seen in Biblical Patriarchy and the Doctrine of Federal Representation as of Sept. 20, 2007, since removed. Cited in Answering Vision Forum, Don Veinot (a rebuttal to Vision Forum’s Aug. 29 letter), on Midwest Christian Outreach’s The Crux blog.2
In our view, [your organization’s] relationship with Vision Forum is a matter of concern for Christians who believe the authority of Scripture, yet believe differently about Biblical requirements of family relationships.
Wise Christians (we hope we are among them!) know that it is not technically heresy to claim that women must never attend college and must serve their fathers as “helpmeets” until marriage; or that the best method of “courtship” is for a father to choose his daughter’s husband and supervise their relationship; or even that women should not vote (though we are among those who would argue heartily that such ideas are wrong!).
However, it is at least approaching disregard of Biblical authority, and perhaps even heresy, to add any of these ideas to Scripture as if they are required or “normative” of Christians.
One reason we appreciate [your organization] is its emphasis only on matters upon which Scripture is so clear. [The ministry] has glorified God and earned Christians’ respect for avoiding secondary issues, or taking a stand on issues about which Christians can sincerely disagree and still be counted within the true Church (such as end-times beliefs, Calvinism and Arminianism, politics, the nature of baptism and so on).
We wonder if Biblical authority is as much undermined by adding to the Bible as by taking away from the Bible. Perhaps such error can be even more dangerous — it’s easier to discern something is not in the Bible Biblical as it is to discern that someone’s belief has been added to it, “proved” by twisting Scripture.
Thank you for your time, and even if we disagree on this, we wish God’s speed, blessing, growth and wisdom to the ministry, its leaders and employees, efforts and front-line work for Christ’s Kingdom.