Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vision Forum

A reader has asked me to take a look at Vision Forum, headed by Doug Philips. I have, and I think that place warrants a full series. This organization isn't just an apologetics ministry, like CARM, or creationist money making venture, like Answers in Genesis. Vision Forum is about total transformation of American family life and civil liberties, to more closely resemble their interpretation of the Bible. I'm not going to focus so much on the historicity of Jesus, the accuracy of Biblical accounts, the canonization of Scripture, or theological disputes. Since Vision Forum is focused on patriarchy and the family (you know, women and kids, who aren't equal people in their own right,) I'll be focusing on the same issues. I'll explain why I think the Vision Forum prescribed lifestyle is detrimental to women, children, and yes, even men.

Let's just take a look at the Vision Forum Mission Statement from their website at (Note: All materials used are copyrighted, but are reproduced on in accordance with Fair Use laws.)
Our Mission - Preserving Our Covenant with God through Biblical Patriarchy and Multi-Generational Faithfulness
Keeping up our end of the bargain with the Man in the Sky by keeping women down and rejecting evolution. Got it.
1. Turning the hearts of fathers to their families.
Well that sounds nice, right? Dads liking their kids seems like a really good thing on its face, but let's see how Doug Philips thinks dads should treat their kids before we pass judgment.
2. Proclaiming the Nobility and Glory of Motherhood
Well motherhood and fatherhood are both extremely important. Not only are children necessary for the survival of the species (thus giving all of us an investment in how children are raised and cared for) but humans are social creatures, and we can expect that we will spend most of our lives interacting with other people who have also been raised by parents. So yes, I think it can be beneficial to recognize the important roles caretakers, teachers, and parents all play in the shaping of children. But that does not mean we should present motherhood as the highest or only aspiration a woman should have in life. (I'll get to why I suspect this of Vision Forum in a moment.)
3. Reviving the Doctrine of “Women and Children First”
Well, as a woman and a mother, I can certainly see the appeal to having my needs met first, or my survival valued. Who among us wouldn't like to live to see tomorrow? But I find "doctrine" to be an odd word choice, and so I will keep one slanted eye on it for a moment while I ponder its meaning in this context.
4. Embracing the Blessing of Children and the Sanctity of Human Life
Ah, now you've lost me. Not because I disagree that children can be a blessing. My son is amazing. He has the most infectious laugh you've ever heard and he actively requests to be tickled. Do you have any idea how great that combination is? But let's be honest for a moment (or always, whichever.)

Raising a kid is a huge undertaking, and it's not for everyone, and even for the people who love it, it's not always the right time. My son is a handful. He's bright and his curiosity level far exceeds his caution. He takes a lot of supervision and a lot of patience. If he gets those things, we're great, but if he doesn't... Life gets challenging. I only want one kid, and I've already got him. And let me make clear, Vision Forum not only opposes abortion; they oppose contraception.

This isn't "accept however many pregnancies you have, despite birth control" version of "everything happens for a reason" that I heard from many people when I had my own abortion. This is "acitvely seek to have as many children as possible." It's very, very different, especially when it's coupled by those prior aspects of the mission statement. Also, here Doug Philips mentions the "sanctity" of life. By this he means everything from opposing euthanasia to giving embryos greater rights and privileges than women.
5. Building a Culture of Virtuous Boyhood and Girlhood
So, no dating, no premarital sex, no sex education, no girls playing sports, no boys playing with dolls, and no getting a job at the local fast food place during high school, right?
6. Reinforcing Godly Masculinity and Femininity
Run away, run away, run away! Those gender roles stuck men with all of the decision making responsibility and burden, and women with none. They deprive people of healthy partnerships, and force them into unbalanced and often abusive relationships. There's a reason why developed nations treat women more fairly, and why women are accorded the right to vote, to own property, to win custody, and to work. Because we're good enough.
7. Understanding Family Culture as Religion Externalized
So, how you treat your family is how you worship your god? Or maybe you mean that children are there to carry on the meme of your faith to future generations of god-fearing mass-produced children?
8. Teaching History as the Providence of God
Wait, all of it? Even slavery and the Holocaust and the Iraq War?
9. Developing Biblical Worldview Through Presuppositional Thinking
Okay, I almost had a cream soda through the nose situation here. "Presuppositional thinking" is fallacious thinking. It literally means, "Taking this thing as true first, and using this assumption as the basis of my worldview." It's dumb and it shows how little evidence the Bible has going for it, if one must first presume it is true before finding it believable.
10. Training Character by Hebrew Discipleship and Home Education
Well, I don't know what he means by Hebrew discipleship, so I'll just note it and move on for now. Notice though that he lists home education as being for "training character" (as opposed to providing, you know, an education.) Helping children to develop a social character is important, but you can do it without home schooling. Most parents do, in fact.
11. Communicating the Applicability of the Law of God
In other words, applying Biblical law to today's society. Um, let's not. I really don't like the idea that I have to marry a man if he rapes me, or else get stoned to death. Really, there's nothing about Biblical law I like better than the laws we have today in the United States.
12. Addressing the Ethical Issues of the 21st Century
By this he means issues like abortion (against it) euthanasia (against it) stem cell research (against it) family planning (against it) and the Pill (against it). Yeah, that's a great way of dealing with issues from the 21st century: Just be opposed to all of them! (Why am I guessing he belongs to the party of No?)
13. Preparing Men to Stand in the Gates
Huh? No, seriously. What does this mean? There must be an awful lot of back story I'm missing out on here. Yay for in-group lingo?
14. Encouraging Unity Between Church and Home
With the Church, of course, in the "headship" position over the Home, much as the man is in "headship" over the woman.

So ladies, would you like to sign on to an untold (but probably large) number of pregnancies and births, to raising lots and lots of children without help from your husband, while serving his wishes and following all his commands, and never getting to make any decisions, but just doing whatever the church says your husband says you should do? Me neither!

[Edit: For anyone interested in more on the Vision Forum life from someone who actually lived it, I highly recommend the blog and community at]