I confess. I find the Doug Phillips story morbidly fascinating. The picture of a home school dad caught at the bedroom window of a young woman not his wife, in the middle of the night, claiming he was delivering her paycheck.
My classical education fails me. Is this Greek tragedy, or farce?
I find it all a strange mix of tragedy, comedy, vindication and no small measure of worry about the poor baby being thrown out with the bath water. Since there’s a danger we could all learn the wrong lessons, let me repeat what I think may be the right ones:
Young women: If you ever find yourself the subject of a physical, sexual advance by a man who isn’t your husband– a hand on your breast, or up under your skirt, the biblical advice is not that complicated: scream. Yell bloody murder. Take a pen and stick it in his throat. If you didn’t want this, say so. Beware, though, of a few complications: your guard will be down if the man is in some sort of authority position over you, but God doesn’t give any special pass to ministers, policemen, teachers, relatives, or family friends. Everyone is subject to authority, and it may be up to you to remind him — at the top of your lungs. And I wrote “physical sexual advance” for a reason. You could ruin an innocent man’s reputation if you mistake a joke, or an embrace, for something impure. But if some guy is trying to get you off in a corner somewhere, and he’s got his hands on you, there’s no need to be polite. Make a scene.
The rest of my advice is a bit more broad, for that whole body of Christ seeking to build a “City on a Hill,” a new dominion based on His Glorious Truth. You know the types: families with lots of kids, anxious to learn from history, teaching the kids about courtship, responsibility, biblical literacy. Unfortunately, thanks to Master Phillips, they are frankly, a little embarrassed, and angered, by the guy who made some of this subculture look ridiculous by association.
Well meaning falsehoods seep into our thinking, and if they are delivered to us by a Christian celebrity, or someone with 900 radio affiliates, or a mega church with a parking lot ministry, or the guy who sold more books at the last home school conference, they gain more credibility than they deserve. Some of these teachings may seem bizarre to the secular world, but they actually sometimes go without critique in much of Doug Phillip’s audience, even if he didn’t originate them.
Don’t leave any of this up to me. Test EVERYTHING you hear against scripture, and against the history of believers discussing scripture.
Here we go:
Guard Your Heart: I don’t know where this came from, but it goes something like this: when you are a young Christian single, don’t allow your heart to be attracted to someone seeking you. Here’s my Christian opinion about that: Bull Shit. God gave you the ability to love. You don’t give that love away, certainly, but if you sit in a corner of the room, “guarding your heart” against anyone who may not be absolutely perfect, you will wind up a dusty, horny old maid. There is no justification in scripture for this. Rebecca’s heart was open, generous, and — ultimately — wed.
My daughter Mallory believes that some of this may have come to us via Joshua Harris and his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. She tells me he has since partially recanted. Good. You simply can’t treat your sweetheart like your “sister in Christ.” It doesn’t work. In fact, it’s just, well, plain gross.
Wait for Super Man: Quite a few Christian financial ministries, and home school dads anxious not to give up their “progeny assets” have articulated a standard for young suitors that is frankly impossible. Not every young man will have a career, a home, a pension, or a militia regiment drilling on the green when your daughter is ready for marriage. David was mostly just potential when he took his first wife. Believe in that potential, because it is a partial measure of your faith.
Kiss at the Altar: This weird practice of couples not even touching before the honeymoon certainly may have had its origins in a reaction to the slutty Hollywood culture that surrounds us. Give your daughter a purity ring and secretly hope she’ll worship her chastity. If you demonize sexuality before marriage, it will certainly remain demonized after marriage. This is not an argument for promiscuity. It’s an argument for the glorious gift God chose to make poetry in the Song of Solomon. Make it ugly, and it will be ugly — and eventually you will be caught knocking on an intern’s window, late at night, trying to deliver a paycheck. If you spend all your time, singing “purity” as though “grace” were not what brings you into the kingdom, your marriage will be joyless, and dead, and it could get embarrassing, when you go answering the call of the wild, while writing Kingdom literature.
The new testament tells us we will have an obligation to confront false teaching. So be it.
Just remember, children, God has a glorious truth, memorialized in the Bible itself. You can read it for free these days. (Hint, Hint..)