"Given that, either his sexual attentions were entirely unwelcome, or they were not. If they were not unwelcome, then the affair appears to have been one of complicated and unconsummated adultery, with two participants. She was an adult, and so if his attentions were not entirely unwelcome, she was a player in the vice, not a victim. The victim in this would have been Beall, with two people victimizing her."
Shortly after news broke about the legal action against Doug Phillips, et al, by his alleged victim, Doug Wilson chimed in with a post entitled Vision Forum and Confessing Your Virtues. Granted, Wilson had some harsh words for Phillips, but he criticized what he described as resorting to the 'unbelieving civil courts'. As you might imagine, there was a good bit of commentary regarding that post.
Then Doug Wilson's daughter (who has three daughters of her own) wrote a post on her blog entitled On not being a victim. Here is an excerpt from that post:
I know that everyone in the world right now is freaking out about the Doug Philips scandal, and to be honest, the whole thing grosses me out so much that I don’t even want to read about it. And given that I don’t even want to read about it, I’m certainly not going to pull up my socks and start writing about it. But the whole situation has given me some food for thought, and that is on the question of how to raise our daughters so that they don’t fall prey to the manipulations of that kind of man – because those kind of men are found the world over, not merely in patriarchal conservative groups. Is your daughter ever likely to encounter more than three men in the course of her life? Then she will encounter this kind of man. So how do we teach our daughters to be submissive but also strong? To be gracious but also quick to say no?
Shortly thereafter, Wilson wrote another post Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum, in which he mentions his daughter's article (referenced above). That post caused quite an uproar, primarily due to this commentary by Wilson:
Given that, either his sexual attentions were entirely unwelcome, or they were not. If they were not unwelcome, then the affair appears to have been one of complicated and unconsummated adultery, with two participants. She was an adult, and so if his attentions were not entirely unwelcome, she was a player in the vice, not a victim. The victim in this would have been Beall, with two people victimizing her.
But if his attentions were entirely unwelcome to her, and she was freaked out by the creepster, then we have to ask why she wasn’t down the road at the first opportunity — that night or the next morning — with Doug Phillips receiving notification of her opinion of what transpired via the sound of sirens. That’s not what happened, on anyone’s account, and so I don’t think we should identify her as a victim.
We can’t have it both ways. We cannot accuse Vision Forum of treating all women like little girls, and then turn around and treat all women as little girls who can’t be expected to say no to a cad at Vision Forum. Everyone who automatically assumes that Torres-Manteufel was necessarily the victim is ironically buying into a view of the world that assumes that grown women are not responsible for what they say or do.
At the same time, of course, we should make allowances for those situations where an abused girl was never given the opportunity to become a responsible adult. If a trusted spiritual leader starts abusing a girl when she is 14, it is not as though, after 7 years of abuse, a magic moment happens when she turns 21, making it easy for her to now walk away. In a situation like that, the word victim is appropriate. But we ought to reserve the word for situations like it, and not use it in circumstances like this one.
There has been quite a bit of discussion, with comments approaching 200 at the writing of this post. One commenter, Stacy McDonald (wife of patriarch James McDonald – a colleague of Doug Phillips), chimed in on April 18 with these remarks:
Thank you, Pastor Wilson! You nailed it! I’ve tried to say the same thing and was accused of not having sympathy for the “victim,” which no one can prove she was at this point…
And I still maintain that the truest victims here are his wife and children.
You may recall that Stacy McDonald co-wrote Passionate Housewives Desperate for God together with Jennie Chancey, the wife of another of Phillips' colleagues – Matt Chancey. Their book was endorsed by Dorothy Patterson around the time that the homemaking program was established at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. When Passionate Housewives Desperate for God was published by Vision Forum, Doug Phillips wrote about Dorothy Patterson's endorsement on his blog (now defunct).
Several years ago Jennie's husband Matt Chancey was winner of a webzine's "Art of Manliness" contest sponsored by Old Spice. His selection caused quite a stir, as explained in this article – Gimme That Old Spice Religion. It includes the following in reference to Doug Phillips:
Key to Chancey’s victory were the efforts of both his wife, who nominated him, and an entrepreneur named Doug Phillips, an important figure in the homeschooling movement, and his large family and network of supporters.
Phillips is an old pal of Chancey’s and a religious and political co-belligerent from their days on the staff of the Home School Legal Defense Association; he heads a Texas-based organization called Vision Forum, which produces and markets books and other materials for conservative Christian homeschoolers.
But to describe Vision Forum as ‘conservative’ does not tell the half of it. Phillips is a follower of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement whose seminal figure is Calvinist theologian R.J. Rushdoony, who died in 2001. Rushdoony’s voluminous, and explicitly theocratic work, (such as the Institutes of Biblical Law) was a pivotal influence in the development of the religious right, and more particularly, the countercultural homeschooling and Christian school movements.
Getting back to Doug Wilson, he got so much commentary under his Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum post that he wrote a follow-up article entitled: Vision Forum and a Season of Meditation. Here is a portion that is causing a stir:
At the same time, outside observers can and should see that she was not simply a mannikin. Just taking her complaint at face value, it is plain that she is not taking the right kind of responsibility for her poor responses to Doug Phillips’ immoral advances. The complaint acknowledges, “She did not at all times refuse Defendant’s sexual advances, but submitted to them based on the fraudulent statements Defendant had made to her.” Those fraudulent statements would include promises of marriage in the future and so forth. While she objected numerous times to his sexual behavior (according to the complaint), the complaint also uses phrases like she “came to see her situation as abusive,” he “persuaded her,” she continued to work for him for several years “not wanting to disappoint,” and so on. On her terms, she was seduced into a compromised position and conflicted state of mind. But despite her continued presence and availability, the complaint alleges that during the entire time she was “incapable of giving consent.” It says this because it is clear that there were instances where she did give consent, and her attorney wants to say that she was in effect in the position of a minor when she did so.
Her incapacity is allegedly the result of the whole patriarchal world that she was enveloped in. But you can’t have it both ways. The behavior that she did not run from after the first incident was behavior on Phillips’ part that was high hypocrisy according to that same patriarchal world. She was an adult, and she should have identified the hypocrisy for what it was upon the first manifestation of it, and she should have recoiled from it. Recoiling from it is not the same thing as putting up with it for years.
As I was doing research on this topic, I came across a blog post written by Geoffrey Botkin's niece, Katie Botkin. She was taking Doug Wilson to task in her post entitled Vice, Victims and Doug Wilson. Here is some of what she wrote:
Doug Wilson thinks that Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is not a victim; that she was a willing participant in an affair with Doug Phillips, and here’s his logic:
1. Doug Phillips sexually assaulted her
2. She cried and asked him to stop
3. He did not stop
4. She didn’t immediately leave his house. Therefore, it must have been consensual. Therefore, it’s adultery, not abuse.
In so doing, Wilson is keen on providing apologetics for even the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, claiming that he has to assign blame to the women who are used inappropriately by the “wrong” kind of patriarchy
Perhaps this kind of pushback is what caused Doug Wilson to post his 'Season of Meditation'.
It is interesting to reflect back to what Doug Wilson wrote shortly after Phillips resigned. In his post Doug Phillips' Resignation from Vision Forum, Wilson stated:
I thought I should say something about Doug Phillips’ resignation from Vision Forum, but it won’t be very much. The news was of course tragic, sad, and humbling. That said, I thought his letter of resignation was good, and accomplished what a letter like that needed to accomplish. I am glad he stepped down from leadership, and am glad he cancelled his future speaking engagements, and that is all to the good. Given the sin, that is what should happen. We should grieve over the damage done, rejoice in his repentance, and wish him and his family nothing but the best.
The second observation has to do with the snark shown by those who see such things as an occasion for venting their spleen.
Well, it appears that Doug Wilson is now 'venting his spleen' as evidenced by what he just wrote about Doug Phillips (see below).
I continue to believe that this whole thing should be sorted through by Christians, with a view to our testimony before a watching world. Based on the undisputed facts that have come out thus far, I have no doubt that if this were adjudicated properly, we would all see at the conclusion that Doug Phillips acted the part of a manipulative scoundrel. I met him once, in 2010, and he took the opportunity then to blow sunshine up my skirt.
Now that's a very interesting statement coming from such a patriarch… What are your thoughts?
Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 18:1-19:14 Hebrews 9:1-10 Psalm 106:32-48 Proverbs 27:10