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By Don and Joy Veinot of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. Originally published in Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, Volume 13 No. 2. Please remember that while the contributors to this website are united in our belief that there are problems with the teachings of Vision Forum, we come from a variety of different perspectives.

As most of our readers know, the mission of MCOI is to look at the teachings and claims of popular movements and individuals inside the church as well as the cults, false religions, and false teachers outside of it. This mission arises from Paul’s mandate to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31 to guard the flock from false teachers who would creep into the church from the outside and from false teachers who arise from within. If they utilize Scripture to support their teachings, we try to determine how they use it, and whether or not they abuse it. Liberals, such as John Dominic Crossan from the Jesus Seminar, out-of-hand reject any Scripture that claims the miraculous; and they dismiss such passages as supposedly having been added later. To Crossan, biblical claims of the supernatural are part of what he calls the “Jesus myth.” If Crossan likes a certain passage of Scripture, such as the Sermon on the Mount, he rips it from its historical context and claims that it is social commentary. According to this view, Jesus was a Socialist political radical who simply was attempting to introduce Socialism into an evil Capitalist society. Context is not only unimportant in such Cults and New Religious Movements, such as Jehovah’s circles, but it is detrimental to their reconstruction efforts. Witnesses (JWs) and Mormons (Latter-day Saints, LDS), handle Scripture differently. Although they claim to hold a high view of Scripture, the final authority is the organization to which they belong. So for JWs, Jesus is not God, he is a created being—Michael the Archangel. For Mormons, Jesus is God, and so can we be if we align ourselves with the LDS, work really hard, and attain perfection.

A good many Evangelicals can easily dismiss all of the above teachings as unreliable heresies promoted by recognized false teachers. After all, it is reasoned, liberal theologians and cultists have long denied the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith, so we feel no obligation to give them credibility in other areas. Evangelicals would be generally opposed to using cultic material containing extra-biblical, unbiblical and, at times, outright heretical teachings in our churches’ services, Bible studies or Sunday school classes. That is a good thing, but  many churches do not have as good a track record when it comes to recognizing false teachers who arise from within. We tend to have a “black-hat” vs. “white-hat” mentality in this area: Cults, false religions, and false teachers outside the church are the black hats—the bad guys; and we can just tell our people to stay away from them. Evangelicals, on the other hand, are the good guys with the white hats; and what we believe is orthodox. As a result, however, many believers are not prepared to challenge and help cultists outside our doors or to evaluate false teachers or teachings within the church. Discernment, along with a good understanding of the essential, basic doctrinal teachings of the faith, generally is not taught in any depth in many churches. Due to this deficit, and because we tend to view Evangelicals as the “white-hat” crowd, there is a great deal of difficulty evaluating the teachings of teachers and groups who have a fairly orthodox statement of faith and are viewed as being on “our team.”

We ran into this problem when we first began looking at the teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles in the 1990s. It isn’t his Statement of Faith in essential orthodoxy that is problematic; it is his additions, mis-/re-definitions, and other claims that move him into “false teacher” category. He presents his teachings as “non optional” truths that should be accepted by all. Many Christians are completely blind to the problem, which continues to result in division within churches and separation of family members. Many of his followers believe his allegations that all true Christians should unquestioningly follow all of his teachings, rules, and principles for living. After all, if his prescriptions are “non-optional,” are they not just suggestions, but rather commandments? Why do his followers seem to believe failing to obey his ironclad “spiritual laws” will incur the wrath of God? And who wants that? Those who question his teachings are viewed as spiritually inferior and even their status as Christians can be seriously doubted by Gothard’s hard-core followers. The peer pressure on those inside is oppressive, and independent thinking is strongly discouraged which has resulted in the painful devastation of many families and individuals within “Gothardism.” It turns out to be a very cult-like situation for many Christians who are just trying to please God and happen to get caught up with a false teacher.

The Courtship of “Edie’s” Father

Many times false teachers have a Bible verse, or collection of Bible verses, which makes their view sound not only plausible, but also mandated from the very mouth of God! Let’s take courtship, for example. Courtship—as defined in these circles—is winning the heart of the father who will assist the future son-in-law in bringing about the  marriage to the young woman in whom a young man is interested. The idea is strongly conveyed that this sort of courtship or betrothal is found in the pages of Holy Writ and is, therefore, God’s mind and will on the matter. Well, is this concept taught in Scripture? It doesn’t really matter; for if the inspired teacher makes the assertion, then it must be true. Even if an example of this “courtship of ‘Edie’s’ father” was found in Scripture, does that mean it is God’s way for it to be done? Isn’t it true that not everything found in the Bible represents God’s will on a particular matter at all or, perhaps, does not hold true for all time and every situation? A few years ago, Ron Henzel, MCOI’s Senior Researcher, came across a satire of this methodology:

Top 10 Biblical Ways to Acquire a Wife
10. Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)
 9. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Ruth 4:5-10)
 8. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head,
trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy
21:11-13)
 7. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. (Judges 21:19-25)
 6. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife. (I Samuel 18:27)
 5. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Esther 2:3-4)
 4. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his  flock. (Exodus 2:16-21)
 3. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have
seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your
decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Judges
14:1-3)
 2. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage.
Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years
for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right.
Fourteen years of toil for a woman. (Genesis 29:15-30)
 1. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you a rib. (Genesis 2:19-24)

We can’t imagine the 200 foreskins idea will actually fly in Twenty-First-Century America. Moreover, grabbing a POW doesn’t sound very practical either. Of course, this is a satire demonstrating how virtually anything can be made to sound right and biblical. First, we start with the false assumption that if something is recorded in the Bible, then it is God’s will on the matter. Next, we abandon the context of the passages and/or the overall context of biblical revelation in order to support our contention. Further, if we add the idea, preferably by implication, that true, obedient Christians will embrace and put into practice (without question) what we have set forth, we can impose our idea while effectively squelching any dissent. A good example of this is employed in Bill Gothard’s 1990 booklet on circumcision where he writes:

Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on the matter. (1)

Let’s follow the progression of Bill Gothard’s teaching about God’s will on the supposedly morally-required practice of circumcision. First, the smokescreen of circumcision being an absolute biblical mandate is set forth. Since, according to Gothard, circumcision is “one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture,” one can only assume there can be no question of the biblical validity of his position. This then becomes the basis to coerce obedience to what Gothard deems right. It gives one lots of power to speak for God. He writes, “there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on the matter.” No question? Wow, that settles it! The implication is that Christians who circumcise their offspring will please God; those who don’t circumcise will not please God—they are being disobedient to Scripture and God’s “strongly commanded and reinforced” will.

Nevertheless, some brave soul might object and point out that although circumcision was commanded in the Old Testament, it was a sign of the Covenant for the nation of Israel and was not meant to be imposed on the Gentiles in the Church according to Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Anticipating just such an objection, Gothard writes:

It is important to note that circumcision was established before the law was given. Circumcision goes back to the faith of Abraham. Thus, those who would seek to dismiss circumcision with the Law, have no Scriptural basis to do so. (2)

Now we know Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation, and God made the Covenant with him (Gen. 17:9-11) long before the Law was given through Moses! But none of the history or context enters into Gothard’s simplistic equation. And because of woeful ignorance of important biblical truths among too many in the Church, Gothard has successfully foisted upon the flock false criteria that seems to have the air of biblical authority. Ergo, those who obey are deemed spiritual, and those who don’t obey are unspiritual, and perhaps, not even Christians! If publicly called to task, Gothard can say he never claimed circumcision is required. Is this done so he can feign the appearance of orthodoxy while gathering more and more followers into his legalistic
authoritarianism?

Catching the Vision … Forum

Several years ago, we noticed Doug Phillips of Vision Forum was a speaker at one of Bill Gothard’s conferences. Of course, not everyone who speaks there is aware of Gothard’s false teaching on authority, circumcision, etc. Since then, however, we have received requests for info about Vision Forum via e-mail, regular mail, and phone calls. Suddenly, churches are having divisions and splits erupting as Vision Forum advocates insist that Sunday schools and youth groups be disbanded, and all church functions become all-family events. Anything else is being called unbiblical. Christian parents who do not home school their children are leaving some churches, because the Vision Forum home-schoolers are looking down on them and referring to them as “Canaanites.” We are well aware that followers can distort the teachings of a leader or organization, and they can do and say things that were never intended to be promoted. However, Vision Forum is growing in influence; and with so many requests for information about them, we decided we should probably look at their material that is available to the public. I started with their web site.

At first glance, Vision Forum’s web site looks more like a web site about American patriotism than anything about Christianity. As I read through the opening page, I came across this statement: “Vision Forum Calls for American Christians to Remember the Mighty Deeds of God at the Quadricentennial of Our Founding as Nation.” Well, I am an American patriot, and I do believe God has done some great works in this nation. However, is there a theme here? Is Christianity supposed to be evaluated mostly through the grid of patriotic Americanism? Certainly, this is not stated and may not be intended, but isn’t that how it comes across?

There didn’t seem to be a readily accessible Statement of Faith on the site, so I emailed Doug Phillips to request one. I received a response from Doug’s personal assistant, Bob Renaud, with a link to the Statement of Faith. After looking over this portion of the web site, I e-mailed Bob
with several questions:

– Does one have to affirm Calvinism in order to be viewed as a believer?
-If a church holds to dispensational theology rather than reformed
theology, would you consider it a Christian church or a false church?
-As you talk about a church teaching the “whole revelation of God,”
would that mean that to be considered a Christian Church they would have
to agree with your view of patriarchy?
-There are several forms of church government practiced, all claiming to
be the biblical form. Are there any that you would regard as not
biblical and if a church uses that form of government are they
considered to be not a Christian church?

I have sent these questions via e-mail on January 6 and January 25, 2007; and so far, I have not received a response. This increases our concerns rather than lessening them. Is it intentional or do they realize that the language in this section of the web site comes across as implying that if one doesn’t agree with Vision Forum’s position, they are at the very least in rebellion to God’s revealed will?

Who’s the Boss?

On the web site, there is a tab for “The All American Boys Adventure Catalog” and “The Beautiful Girlhood Collection.” Do boys have adventures, and girls don’t; but rather, girls are simply beautiful? Now, of course, we recognize there are differences between the sexes; and by itself, these tab titles may not mean much. However, as one looks deeper into their teachings, why do they reflect this very impression of their views on female worth—which is: Not much? In the section of their web site on doctrine is the link to “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy.” This is, by their own claim, core to their teaching:

Central to the crisis of this era is the systematic attack on the timeless truths of biblical patriarchy. This attack includes the movement to subvert the biblical model of the family, and redefine the very meaning of fatherhood and motherhood, masculinity, femininity, and the parent and child relationship. We emphasize the importance of biblical patriarchy, not because it is greater than other doctrines, but because it is being actively attacked by unbelievers and professing Christians alike. Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers. In conscious opposition to feminism, egalitarianism, and the humanistic philosophies of the present time, the church should proclaim the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions. (3)

They also clearly state that they affirm the historic creeds of the Church, their faith is centered on Christ, and is founded on the Word of God. They then go on to state:

Biblical patriarchy is just one theme in the Bible’s grand sweep of revelation, but it is a scriptural doctrine, and faithfulness to Christ requires that it be believed, taught, and lived. (4)

So, is their fundamental view that God created the male as the boss and the female and children as the male’s servants? To begin at the beginning, they write:

WE DENY that the first man and first woman were created simultaneously or with equal authority with respect to each other. (5)

Although there is nothing in their text which supports the assertion, why is it implied throughout their material that disagreement on these issues is only done by rebellious Christians or those who are not Christians at all? As we look at the text, we see in Genesis 1:26 that the word “man” was applied equally to both as it referred to “them”:

Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image; according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish  of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27, NASB, underline ours) The theme of authority and all the attendant power struggles developed subsequent to the Fall.

But according to the Vision Forum, women really cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands:

The lies which tell us we should be independent from our parents and out from under their authority, training for a career or looking for our ministry outside of the context of our home and family.  [sic] But Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death…” 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. (6)

Unless a daughter marries, she functionally remains pretty much the property of the father until he dies:

Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection. (7)

Women should not go to college. Such a pursuit is a waste of time and money:

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? (8)

Can a wife entertain a political opinion separate and different from that of her husband?

In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating division WITHIN the family. (9)

While we do not foresee a mad stampede of Christian women burning their voting cards anytime soon, can you imagine the implications for our world if they did? It would effectively halve the  Christian vote, because non-Christian women seem extremely unlikely to follow suit! But we digress. As we look at the Vision Forum statement itself, we learn that the husband’s opinion is for the good of the family. A good wife is entitled to hold his opinion. Holding an opposite opinion is enshrining her will “OVER the good of the family.” This is sounding remarkably like the town of Stepford.*

There are many things within the writings of Vision Forum which are good and biblical. They, like MCOI and many others, see the Church has not been strong in Christo-centric (Christcentered) teaching for several hundred years, and false world views have captured the imaginations and minds of Western culture and even many in the Church. But as is so often the case, the more reasonable positions they take serve to draw in concerned Christians, and the very problematic teachings are added on top. Although there are constant assurances that women are equal before God, there are also constant reminders that her mind is the least important aspect of who she is and something which must daily be set aside. This is demeaning, and it is an absolute tragedy if a woman becomes truly convinced of this! Does this view ultimately accuse God of making a mistake? Why would He create women with a mind they constantly have to work at not using?

A Patriarchal Gospel

Is patriarchy, as defined by Vision Forum, part of the “grand sweep of revelation” which Scripture requires to be believed, lived and taught in order to be faithful to Christ? Does Vision Forum practice patriarchy as it was practiced in Old Testament times, for we find no instruction on it in the New Testament? Are those who disagree with Vision Forum truly rebellious believers? These answers have to be “no.” Vision Forum asserts that patriarchy is  “Gospel-centered doctrine.” If Vision Forum’s claim about the practice of patriarchy being “Gospel-centered doctrine” is true; then according to this thinking, if one rejects the Vision Forum view, one is rejecting the very Gospel!

It is true the patriarchs were rulers. Not all males were patriarchs, nor did they have the opportunity to become patriarchs. Patriarchs were tribal chieftains. The patriarchal father would typically pass his position of patriarch to his firstborn son. We have instances in Scripture where the family headship was passed to the second born, but the effect was the same. All of the relatives became, in effect, his servants and property. We see an example of this in Genesis 27 when Jacob deceived Isaac into giving him the patriarchal blessing that naturally would have been passed on to his firstborn brother, Esau. The result and full import of what this meant is spelled out by Isaac in Genesis 27:37:

But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” (NASB)

Sorrowfully, Isaac let Esau know that his hands were tied. The mantle of rulership had been passed on and now all of Jacob’s relatives, aunts, uncles, brother’s sisters, cousins, etc., including Esau, are to be Jacob’s slaves, Jacob’s property. The point is Vision Forum isn’t going far enough if their objective is to embrace Old Testament patriarchy! If they want patriarchy, they cannot simply pick and choose which elements they wish to leave out. Are tribal fiefdoms really supposed to be the pattern for the Church? Forget about wives submitting to husbands—all our relatives have to submit to Uncle Ned!

We find nothing in the Old or New Testament setting up any system of “Christian patriarchy,” nor making patriarchy “Gospel-centered.” If in order to be faithful to Christ we are required to believe, teach and live patriarchy as it was practiced in Scripture; then all brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., would have to submit themselves to the rulership of whomever son the patriarchal father designated as the new patriarch! Simply because a concept can be found in Scripture, does not mean it is ordained by God. And even if something was ordained by God for a certain place or time, that fact does not mandate the same for all eras and times. We have to discern and rightly divide (2 Tim.2:15) when we read Scripture. Just because Noah was commanded to build an Ark and gather up the animals, that does not mean we need to do that today, even though God is going to send terrible woes upon the earth. The Israelites were commanded by God to drive out certain enemies by killing every person in the town—men, women, and children. We are not under that command today, although there still exist enemies of God. The Israelites were allowed to practice polygamy and own slaves. Even though God did not command Israel to practice polygamy or own slaves, He allowed and regulated both. Are these practices mandated or even encouraged today?

Only One True Master

Where does God’s leadership come into all of this? Is not God our Master? Remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:

But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth “father,” for you have one Father, and He is in Heaven. (Matthew 23:8-9, NIV)

God is our Father! God is our Patriarch! We have no need of tribal chieftains. Jesus goes on to say:

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12, NIV)

“Submit to One Another”

Most often at the core of these distorted authoritarian teachings is an unbiblical view of leadership. The Scriptures are clear that we are to submit to authority in such passages as Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13 and Ephesians 5. But what does that mean?

The biblical patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—had been called out of paganism, and so they continued practicing certain pagan customs. God didn’t change everything all at once. Their view of authority was a rather harsh top down structure. The one at the top was the boss, and all the rest were underlings—basically his servants. The disciples still harbored a similar view, and on several occasions were arguing over who would end up at the top of the authority structure. Who would sit at the right or left hand of Jesus? Jesus set them straight, however, and turned the authority structure on its head:

Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. (Mark 10:42-44, NASB)

Not only is this what Jesus taught, but He exemplified it! In fact, He went on to say:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  (Mark 10:45, NASB)

Christian authority is not merely a circumstance of birth order or gender, which bestows a position of power in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, who as God, is the only rightful heir of all “authority” (Matt.28:18) demonstrated by His sacrificial life on how Christian authority is to be attained and wielded. Authority is earned by sacrificial living. All of us are to focus on serving those around us. It also means that the higher one ascends to a position of leadership in the church, the more accountable they become to a larger number of people. Those who are truly leaders in a biblical sense live in glass houses, and everyone around them has Windex! It also means that those who follow do so because they are able to observe and trust those who lead (1 Thess. 1:5).

Hebrews 13:17 says:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB)

The word rendered obey literally means to be persuaded. It does not mean to hear and unquestioningly comply. The word submit literally means yield. All of this is preceded by something said 10 verses earlier:

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NASB)

All of this flows perfectly from what Jesus said in Mark 10:45. Remember or call to mind those servants who are leading you. Think about how they live and the way they “wear” their faith. You will know they are trustworthy when you observe the selfless lives they live. They have earned and continue earning that trust daily as they serve. Moreover, because of that, we are “persuaded” as persons who also are serving as we yield to their wisdom and not throwing unnecessary roadblocks in their path. This is admittedly a difficult concept. The world around us is still mostly ordered in a top-down structure. We in the Western world enjoy more political equality and freedom than most, but authoritarian leadership as a concept is not dead. Our political leaders may claim it is their desire to “serve the people,” but we mostly see them jockeying for positions of good-old-fashioned power. The Church has some of these same problems. Many people seem to desire to be freed from responsibility by being simply “told what to do.” It eliminates the need to have a personal relationship with God and to diligently practice biblical discernment. And although we are aware of the many true servant/leaders in the Church, there seems also to be no shortage of “leaders” who are more than happy to rule like little kings. This type of leader becomes the mediator for his followers, and the followers simply have to hear and obey. God becomes merely the “big stick” the leader uses to keep everyone in line.

Head of the Wife

Even aside from Vision Forum and the patriarchal issue they raise, a great deal of time is spent in certain Christian circles today debating the egalitarian vs. complementarian views of gender roles. Who is the boss? Are men to be the supreme rulers of the Church? How are women’s gifts to be utilized? Strangely, very little focus or weight seems to be put on Jesus’ assertion that the leader should be the servant of all! Often this conflict centers on the question of women’s leadership—particularly in the local church. Ephesians 5 certainly talks about wives submitting to their husbands, but again, there is a progression in Paul’s teaching on the subject. Ephesians 5:21 asserts that believers ought to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. There is no gender qualification here; rather, it is a general mandate. Paul then moves from the general to the specific as concerning marital headship.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24, NASB)

Part of the problem is that subjection is often equated with inferiority in our minds, but that certainly is not the case. Christ, Himself, is subject to the Father, but He is not inferior to the Father in nature. Cultists even reject the Trinity on their false assumption that Jesus could not be God if He was in subjection to His Father. Nonsense! The persons of the Godhead seem to delight in bringing honor to the other persons. There is no power struggle going on there, no question of inferiority or superiority of one to another. Christ was even subject to His human parents on earth, but He certainly was not inferior to them (Luke 2:51)! Yet, we confuse these issues with regularity. It seems very hard, in our age, to separate the two, because we are so bent toward seeing everything as a power struggle.

Christian leadership is about serving others—it is about servanthood. Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life” for all of us. Why don’t we get this? His headship over us is not overbearing or abusive—that is how the pagans understand authority! He loves us and wants what is best for us. He is gentle and humble in heart; His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:29-30). In the same way, as husbands are as the head in order to serve their wives, the wives willingly serve and follow their husbands. In good marriages, the husband is not threatened by his wife; and he builds into what she is doing. He would thank God for her mind, not only for her own development, but also as a great asset to him and to the family! In turn, there is not much she would not willingly do for him. Marriage is not meant to be a power struggle.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. (Ephesians 5:25-31, NASB)

This passage places a higher burden of responsibility on the husband to love and serve his wife. However, with such a husband, why should she not trust him enough to follow his lead? Husbands are to love and serve their wives in the same sacrificial way Christ loved the church. Husbands are not to demand to be served, nor are they to micro-manage their wives’ lives. They are to be the ultimate servants in the family by following Christ’s lead. Wives and husbands  both need to follow the example of humility set by Christ,

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant … (Philippians 2:6-7, NIV)

We are all encouraged to emulate Christ, by taking on this attitude of humility. We are to:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-5, NIV)

If all of us were busy considering others better than ourselves and serving each other in love, then the power struggles would end not only in gender issues but also in all personal relationships within the Body.

Why is the pagan top-down view of authority promoted by Vision Forum so pervasive that it is present in most paragraphs of their “Tenants of Biblical Patriarchy?” Even in Old Testament times, a man was wise who did not oppress his wife, but partnered with her for the good of the family.

The Proverbs 31 Man

The woman who puts her husband’s and children’s welfare above her own is following Christ’s example of loving servanthood. It is a wonderful thing. However, the biblical model does not preclude a woman from using her mind and/or having pursuits outside the home. The excellent wife of Proverbs 31 is a biblically inspired example of that. She is a shopper and crafter (Proverbs 31:13-16). She is a business woman (Proverbs 31:16). She is strong, dignified and speaks with wisdom (Prov. 31:25-26). She is involved in social programs (Proverbs 31:20) and more. We all have heard messages, sermons and articles about this godly woman, but what of her husband? From the passage, we can learn some things about him as well. He is not intimidated by his accomplished wife. He trusts her (Proverbs 31:11). She makes business decisions on her own (Proverbs 31:16). He praises her (Proverbs 31:28) for the fine things she does. She is not viewed as an inferior—both seem to serve in their respective areas unencumbered by power struggles.

We do not see in Scripture where women are to be subject to every man in any general way outside of the marriage bond. All women and men are to be subject to one another (Eph. 5:21). Women, like men, should develop and use their minds and their gifts in service and for the betterment of the Body of Christ. Again, if we stay busy serving one another in love and putting others above ourselves, then perhaps we can lay the power struggles aside.

There probably are many things Vision Forum does well. However, why would they allow this unbiblical and harmful authoritarian core or foundation, which as a result, eclipses whatever good things they may do? Don’t they realize that as they thrust their pagan and unblibcal view of authority on their followers, it will create stress and schisms on family relationships, relationships with friends, and splits in churches? A refocus on biblical leadership and serving as Jesus Christ
served is what is needed.

Don and Joy Veinot are co-founders of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., which is a national apologetics ministry and mission to new religious movements based in Wonder Lake, IL. He and Joy, his wife of 37 years, have been involved in discernment ministry as missionaries to New Religious Movements since 1987. Don is on the Board of Directors for Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR), a consortium of discernment ministries. In addition to being staff researchers and writers for the Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. Journaland co-authors of  A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life, they have been published in the CRI Journal, PFO Quarterly Journal, Campus Life Magazine and other periodicals. Don was ordained to the ministry by West Suburban Community Church of Lombard, IL at the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, Israel in March of 1997. They have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Notes:
1. [MTIA], How to Make a WIse Medical Decision on Circumcision, (1990; Oak Brook, IL: Medical Training Institute of America [IBLP], rev. 1992) 2.
2. [MTIA], How to Make a WIse Medical Decision on Circumcision, (1990; Oak Brook, IL: Medical Training Institute of America [IBLP], rev. 1992) 2.
3. Vision Forum; The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy; http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/biblical_patriarchy.aspx
4. Vision Forum; The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy; http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/biblical_patriarchy.aspx
5. Vision Forum; A Biblical Confession on Creation; http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/a_biblical_confession_on_creat.aspx
6. From The Feminism of the Mothers is the Destruction of the  Daughters http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/family/the_feminism_of_the_mothers_is.aspx
7. Vision Forum; The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy; http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/biblical_patriarchy.aspx
8. Biblical Patriarchy and the Doctrine of Federal Representation http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/family/biblical_patriarchy_and_the_do.aspx

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