Posted By Jennifer McBride on August 30, 2014
I am a second generation homeschooler. I was homeschooled beginning in the mid-80s when it was still a new frontier. We were the third family in the state of California to register as a private/home school. Shortly thereafter we moved to Alaska where I grew up in a strong homeschool community.
As the oldest child in the family I was very much on the journey with my parents. I listened to many of the messages they listened to, heard their discussions with other parents, went to homeschool conventions and helped run our family’s homeschool bookstore. After I graduated I helped teach my younger siblings. Now, I homeschool my own children.
I miss those early days. In spite of our differences we were all united as homeschoolers who were blazing new trails together.
I have always thought highly of HSLDA and until recently, we were members. Michael Farris is one of the homeschool pioneers I grew up appreciating.
Over the past ten years or so, as my husband and I have prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom and guidance in raising our own family for Him, Vision Forum has been a huge blessing to us. We are among the many that are shocked and heartsick over the moral failures of Doug Phillips. We do not defend him or his actions in any way shape or form. However, over the past year I have been deeply grieved over the many accusations I have seen made against Vision Forum, their teachings and the families who have appreciated both. The statements Mr. Farris and others have made about the things that they taught and promoted, especially in regards to women, are blatantly false.
I can say this for a fact based on the following reasons:
1. We listened to almost every message VF ever produced and read almost every book or article they published on this topic and are extremely familiar with their stance.
2. We agreed with VF’s stance personally. We are among the families that believe in Biblical patriarchy and we absolutely do not believe the things Mr. Farris has accused us of. We personally know many other families who also appreciated and agreed with Vision Forum’s teachings and they also in no way hold to, or practice patriarchy as defined by Mr. Farris. In fact, we would agree with this statement by Mr. Farris 100% :
Women are not to be the de facto slaves of men. Women are created with dignity equal to that of men. Women have direct and unmediated access to God. Daughters should not be taught that their only and ultimate purpose in life is to be the “helpmeet” of a man. While being a godly wife is a worthy ideal, the only statement that is universally true for every woman is that she should love and serve God as her highest priority. My wife and I raised our own daughters to believe that being a wife and mother was a very high calling but did so in a way that would not crush them if God’s leading had been different.
3. I compiled a book on Biblical womanhood that was published by Vision Forum ( because it fit the message of womanhood that they wanted to convey.) My own words therefore are included in the materials that Mr. Farris denounced as a whole. I would invite any naysayer to read that book – “Queen of the Home” – subtitled “The Honor, Power and Nobility of Biblical Womanhood” – and find a single statement that coincides with the accusations made by Mr. Farris. (Read this excerpt here for a sample) Read or listen to (in context!) any book, article or message that Vision Forum published on this topic. You will not find the view of women that Mr. Farris claims is taught.
4. I vote. I expect that my daughters will vote when they are old enough. I have business endeavors. I believe in higher education for women. I fully expect that my daughters will be well educated. I am not a poor, downtrodden doormat or victim. I am not forced to have babies. I have wanted every one of my 8 living children and the 4 that are with the Lord and I pray for more. I have a brain and I use it. I think. I have opinions. I study. I love theology. I love logic. And yes, I believe in Biblical patriarchy.
Mr. Farris says
Some young people who were raised in patriarchal and/or legalistic homes are now telling their stories. It is from their stories that I have learned that these men’s teachings are being applied in ways that are clearly unwise and damaging from any reasonable vantage point—Christian or secular. People are being hurt.
I think Mr. Farris would agree that just because a few extremely disturbed and evil people who seriously abuse their kids and also homeschool, does not equate to the fact that all homeschoolers are extremely disturbed and evil people who abuse their kids. Yes. People misapply and abuse the idea of patriarchy, just like there are those who misapply and abuse homeschooling. But there are no victims of true, Biblical, godly patriarchy. It is vital that this distinction is made.
Legalism is wrong and people will misapply good and godly teaching. This is not the fault of the teaching. This is the fault of our sinful hearts. It is good to pause and reflect on what we believe and why we believe it. Sometimes we need to dive back into the Scriptures and reevaluate our convictions.
But we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We don’t need to turn on those who hold to different convictions than we do and condemn them as heretics. Perhaps those of us who believe in Biblical patriarchy are not just legalistic lemmings, blindly and thoughtlessly obeying the commands of our leaders as we all head off the nearest cliff. Perhaps we have carefully and prayerfully studied out the Word of God and are seeking, by His grace, to apply it. Perhaps our ideas aren’t all that extreme if people actually heard what we had to say about what we believe and not what others have decided we believe.
It is one thing to address wrong teaching. That is necessary, well and good. It is quite another thing, however, to define what someone believes, accuse them of error and then attack them based on something that is a total fabrication, that they repeatedly deny and that can be proven as false from multiple public and easily obtained sources.
This statement by Mr. Farris is one among many that is simply not true:
Look at the outcomes of these teachings. The personal failure of Doug Phillips in the area of marriage and his mistreatment of a young woman bears directly on the legitimacy of his teaching.
Mr. Phillips himself stated that he had betrayed everything he taught and held dear. The whole reason his sin sent shockwaves throughout the entire Christian homeschool community was because it was in direct opposition to everything he stood for.
This closing statement by Mr. Farris is disturbing on many levels – not the least of which is its ominous undertone:
I truly hope that our movement will continue to demonstrate considerable tolerance for differences of opinion. But I also hope that we will show the maturity to understand that some opinions deserve no promotion. Our movement will only be tainted by extremist views if we give our platforms over to such teachers.
Mr. Farris has not only “thrown us under the bus” as one excellent response stated , he has also fed us to the wolves. I am guessing that a good portion of the people he just slandered are (or were) faithful members of HSLDA and supporters of Mr. Farris and his fight for homeschooling freedom. What sort of defense lawyer publicly accuses, prosecutes and passes judgement on those he has stated he will defend?
“There will be more to say on this in the days ahead—by me and many others. I am not trying to give an encyclopedic answer; I am just trying to draw a line in the sand.”
Yes. This is a line in the sand. It is a line drawn with a sword that first stabbed in the back and then with one fell swoop severed off a large portion of the body of Christ.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”..that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” 1 Corinthians 12:21, 25